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Social life in relocation
When deciding to relocate, it should be taken into account that the first few months abroad are often difficult, filled with getting familiar with a new culture, filling out paperwork and dealing with bureaucracy related to the move (we at TOGETTHERE are happy to help you with this, by the way). Therefore, there may not always be time or emotional energy to meet new people. However, after the initial adjustment period, there may be moments of crisis and loneliness, stemming from the distance from extended family and friends. How to overcome this? We have summarized some tips in this article.
Create a social life actively
So, you’ve arrived in your new country, fulfilled your dream, and now you’re feeling a little… lonely. Although immediate family members and your partner will usually be with you, this doesn’t necessarily bridge the gap between the language, culture, and customs that are foreign to you.
Therefore, creating a social life in the new country is a significant step that will make the transition smoother and more enjoyable. So, our first tip: before or during the relocation, you can share your relocation on social networks and join groups that are intended for flights to Slovakia or for those who already reside in Slovakia. There, you will be exposed to other Israelis who have chosen to take the same step as you, and you can get to know them, share experiences and receive tips. The people who have undergone a similar journey to yours will be those who will understand your choice and be able to assist you in the best possible way.
Open up to Slovaks – through sports groups
In addition to Israeli virtual groups, it is recommended to participate in physical groups in Slovakia and through them, get to know locals or foreigners from all over the world who share common interests.
It is known that Slovaks love sports very much, and there is a very wide range of group sports activities there. Go to yoga or Pilates lessons, a basketball group, try different branches and see what you connect with the most. Of course, it is easier to develop interactions in a group of ball games than, say, in a pool, but this mainly depends on you. If you are less sporty, join English writing groups or art groups, sculpture, photography… don’t come with expectations so as not to be disappointed, sometimes it takes time to get to know people. It is advisable to persevere at the beginning even if it is not exactly what you thought – give it a chance, don’t be afraid.
Another place where you can meet foreigners from all over the world who can be a good social support for you is in groups for learning the Slovak language. It’s like killing two birds with one stone: you will learn the local language and get to know new friends.
Stairway talks – What about relationships at work?
Regarding work, remember that your social circle in Israel may consist of people you met in various institutions – from the army or studies, and not necessarily from work. However, abroad, the circle is limited, and therefore there is importance in creating a connection with your colleagues who sit next to you for many hours a day. Despite the difficulty, the long working hours, and the tasks waiting for you at home, be active. Try to initiate meetings with colleagues for work, such as a family picnic on the weekend in the park, and thus create a deeper social connection. You can set aside time to talk, invite them for meals at home, or go for a walk once a week. Furthermore, the more you try to work as a team, connect with employees, and work together on projects, you will feel like you are part of something bigger and you will be more motivated to come to work. All these actions require courage, but they pay off in the long run.
Sabbaths and holidays – The Jewish Point
In a slightly different context, the times when you feel the lack most strongly are the holidays. In Israel, people start preparing and cooking for each holiday several days in advance. On the holiday morning, a different scent fills the air, and you celebrate with family or friends. Abroad, it is different. For most people, it is just another regular day, they are not familiar with your holidays, and there is almost no feeling of a holiday. Be sure not to be alone and create the family and special atmosphere around you as much as possible. Go to the Chabad House, invite relatives from Israel or Israelis you know, and do everything to feel a homely and enjoyable atmosphere.
In the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, there is a small but very tight-knit Jewish community. Rabbi Michael Kapustin is the spiritual leader of the community, which has only a few thousand members. Through the community, you can meet Israelis who live in Bratislava, participate in Shabbat receptions, and celebrate Jewish holidays together. Children can participate in summer camps and other events organized by the community.
Extended family – in Israel and abroad
Another issue that is almost not talked about is related to the family that stays in the country. Although those who choose to travel experience the most extreme change, even for those who stay in the country, it is sometimes not an easy experience. Many parents feel a sense of loneliness and deep longing for children who do not live nearby, and the siblings who remain have to bear the burden of caring for their parents. In addition, extended family members are raising their children without some of their cousins, not out of personal choice. Therefore, even when congratulating you (which is good), do not forget to call, give a kind word to the other side, and allow them to share as well. Tip: Set regular family zoom times, at least once a week, for an update, a virtual glass of wine together, or just to laugh.