My first teaching job started in October (two weeks after I finished my ESOL certification after graduating from my MAT program) when a teacher left at the last minute. This means that I missed orientation week and getting to know the new and returning teachers. It took longer to get to know people and find my way around town. I vowed to never get hired late in the year again!
Since then I have discovered how *I* best acclimate to a new country/city/school:
- Participate fully during orientation. Talk to people. Ask questions. Don’t worry about bothering people with too many questions. Now is the best time to ask.
- Participate in the community. Is there a local gym you can join? What about a class you could take (salsa, cooking, language, etc.)? Some people join the local churches even when they don’t speak the language. All of these activities help you develop a group of friends outside of your place of work.
- Do what you love. If you love hiking go take a day trip. If you love to dance find clubs and dance schools before you even arrive so you can start attending ASAP.
- While it is tempting to spend your first couple of weeks working all the time to set up your classroom, get out and EXPLORE. Use Google Maps and walk around the neighborhood. Use Foursquare, Yelp, or a similar app to find places you are interested in.
- Get your housing situated right away. I always recommend that people bring whatever makes their apartment feel like home to them. I personally love to bring pictures, good sheets, great knives, my favorite bed pillows, candles, wall art, giant coffee mugs, and my French Press. Bring what makes you happy and makes you feel at home right away.
Those are my top tips, but a bonus tip would be to just listen. Whenever you are out and about or just meeting someone listen to what they say instead of thinking of what you will say next. You might hear something unexpected.
Please comment below: What do you do to acclimate to a new place? How do you make somewhere new feel like home?