How to (re) learn the culture of the target country?

Boubacar Diallo

Taking your bearings in a foreign country you settle in involves learning about a new culture. Learning the culture of the target country is a good thing, however, you should not lose your original identity. You must find the right balance between adapting to a new environment while keeping your own identity. This is one of the major challenges facing the “repats”: to succeed in integrating. For successful mobility, it is essential to understand and learn the culture of the target country.


Learn the language of the target country
Whether you have a complete lack of knowledge of the local language or some basics, the language barrier needs to be overcome.

In addition to the practical aspect, mastering the language of the country of expatriation is a true vector of integration. Your efforts to express yourself in a language that is not necessarily your language affect how the local population perceives you.

You can start learning the local language in your country of residence or on the spot in total immersion.


To contact the diaspora in his country of residence
Before you leave for your new host country, it is interesting to contact the diaspora of your new country of residence. Nobody is better placed than them to make you discover the culture of their country of origin, the codes (dress, language, etc.) to respect.

It is indeed wise and relevant to interview and question, upstream, members of the diaspora. By doing so, you will avoid making some odd at the time of your arrival.


Discover the country, its city and its neighborhood
To appropriate the local culture you must think outside the box. Discover the surroundings while getting away from the tourist sites, browse your neighborhood, the city as well as the country while being accompanied by local friends.

This practice allows you to better understand the specificities in which you have settled.

Adopt the local way of life

Expatriate in Togo since a few months, you only watch the familiar foreign television channels. Are you only interested in the expatriate community? This mode of operation can actually at first reassure you. Nevertheless, it does not allow you to learn the culture of the country.

To learn a culture it is essential to live it and to experience it. Familiarize yourself with the country’s codes by visiting your coworkers or local friends. Your goal is not to adapt all local habits but to discover the culture of the country in which you settle. Remember that this culture is rooted in the population and that you must absolutely respect it at all levels, in the context of work, education, your friendly relations, etc.


Build a social life

Making contacts only with locals is not enough. You have the opportunity to learn from the experience of expatriates living for many years in the country. It also allows you to not be isolated if you only know a few people in your new country of residence.

On the other hand it is only by establishing links that you will manage to have a real understanding of the local culture. Grab all the opportunities that come your way: club activities, school outings, work environment, etc.

Adhere to his new professional background
Evolving into a new professional setting can cause concern. You must, in fact, adapt to a new type of management, to practices that you do not master, to new colleagues.

Participate, if necessary, in cross-cultural training courses offered by many multinationals, on site or before your departure.

Learning the culture of a target country can be difficult depending on where you are settling. Nevertheless, it is essential to respect it for a successful integration.

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