18 Ways I Adapted to New Surroundings


You’ll probably already utilise a number of these ways I adapted to new surroundings, without even thinking about it. After arriving in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville from New Zealand just six weeks ago for a year long stay, it suddenly hit me that I had adapted. My surroundings felt ‘normal’. It got me thinking ‘how did I adapt to my new surroundings?’. The transition from one environment to another can be stressful on the body and mind, with changes in culture, environment and habits all taking their toll. The following are 18 Ways I Adapted to New Surroundings.

  1. Research

Prior to departure do some research on your destination. My research consisted of a blend of Bougainville documentaries, the Lonely Planet guide, a 4-day briefing session with fellow volunteers and chatting with people whom of which had visited previously. This helped to mentally prepare what to expect of my new surroundings upon touching down.

  1. Go Out Daily

Make an effort to go outside and explore your surroundings on a daily basis, whether it’s a stroll to the local market, a trip to the shops, a coffee at a cafe or a walk for some fresh air. This can be easy in some environments and more challenging in others, but it’s vital to get out and about for the mind and body. Plus, who knows what opportunities may present themselves whilst out.

  1. Hobbies

Check whether you can join a club to partake in your hobbies whether it’s football, running or walking. Why not consider taking up a new hobby? Upon arrival in Bougainville, I was asked if I’d like to go snorkelling. I said yes and loved it. I have since been half a dozen times and eager to get back into the water as soon as possible. Exercise helps to release endorphins which will have you feeling great in no time.

Adapting to New Surroundings

Discover New Hobbies

  1. Treats

Don’t be afraid to treat and reward yourself – just be sure not to go overboard! Maybe a cup of tea and a biscuit, an ice-cream or watching an episode of your favourite tv show will help to give you, a little you time.

  1. Social Media

Connect with friends and family through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or your social media platform of choice. In Bougainville, I can use Facebook without using any data, as the local provider offer it as a free service. I keep in touch with friends and family and occasionally check in on what’s going on in the rest of the world, which helps to not feel so remote and disconnected.

  1. Comforts

Why not take a few home comforts with you? It could be as simple of your favourite coffee mug, your pillow or your comfy pyjamas. I took a range of small, easily transportable home comforts including photographs and my favourite New York Yankees baseball cap, which help to add a touch of familiarity.

  1. Open Minded

Try to say yes as much as possible. Be open to new opportunities, new connections, new relationships and new adventures. Make an effort to smile and say hello to people. Remember, friendly people gravitate towards friendly people.

Adapting to New Surroundings

Perfect Spot for Yoga

  1. Yoga, Meditate, Stretch

A little maintenance every day goes a long way to the mind and body feeling great. Some simple stretches of the feet, legs, back and neck really do help to ease those aches and pains – find a calm place, take slow deep breathes in and out and embrace the moment.

  1. Read and Write

Put aside an hour or more a day to read your favourite book. Wake up in the morning and read whilst drinking your coffee – it’s a great way to start the day. Think about keeping a diary, writing emails to friends and family or developing am article, which is a great way to declutter the mind.

  1. Hydration

Keep a bottle of water by your side at all times and get into the habit of drinking little and often. Once the habit has formed, it will come naturally and you’ll be hydrated throughout the day.

  1. Food

I love a trip to the supermarket and when it’s a supermarket in a foreign country, it has the added bonus of new and exciting produce to discover. Upon arrival I head to the supermarket immediately to explore and stock up. There’s something satisfying about having a stocked cupboard of delicious supplies that puts the mind at ease and a smile on my face.

  1. Neighbours

Introduce yourself to your neighbours, as they can be pivotal in adapting to your new surroundings. You could bake some banana muffins, invite them around for a coffee or get a group of people together for a game of Trivial Pursuit, or anything else you like. Once you’ve established a connection, you can build upon it and form a relationship.

  1. Language

If you’ve moved to somewhere with a different language, try to pick up a few basic phrases and don’t be afraid to try them out. In Bougainville, I learnt to introduce myself ‘Nem belong mi Adam’ in Tok Pisin. The attempt to speak the local language is appreciated by the locals and acts as an ice-breaker. Also, consider organizing lessons in the local language.

Adapting to New Surroundings

Explore the Wilderness

  1. Nature

Get outside to explore nature and wildlife as often as possible. It can be a very grounding experience. Go for a trek, a swim in the ocean, take a bicycle ride out of town or get up early and watch the sun rise from a good vantage point. There’s nothing quite like wilderness to sooth the body and mind.

  1. Moments

Appreciate the small things that occur in your new surroundings, no matter how simple. Maybe a chat with someone on the way to the shops, discovering a new fruit at the market or spotting a hummingbird in the garden – savour these moments of joy.

  1. Home

Spend some time to make your new home comfortable. Home is your sanctuary. It’s where you can be yourself, relax and unwind. You want to make it as comfortable as possible. Upon arrival I cleaned the house, put my own bedsheets and pillow cases on the bed and organised my belongings from my rucksack.

  1. Sleep

Make sure you get enough sleep, it’s vital to rest and recuperate. Make your bedroom as decluttered, cool and comfortable as possible and try to get into a sleeping routine as soon as possible.

  1. Give it time

Allow plenty of time to adapt and don’t be too tough on yourself. It can take time for the mind and body to adjust. Different cultures, landscape, environment, weather, beliefs and food all take time to understand and absorb. It took me 4 weeks to adjust to my new surroundings of Bougainville and only then d I feel like my energy levels were back up to the normal level.

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