One of the most important things about feeling settled in your new host country, in my opinion, is establishing a routine. With a routine firmly in place your new city feels less alien and more normal, well at least it does to me.
Many people scoff that routine is boring and life should be a constant adventure. Now, I’m all for adventure but in between the adventures there must be some normality and routine if you are ever going to feel like you belong somewhere.
I’ve just reached the stage where I have a routine (with plenty of room for adventures) and I finally feel settled and at home. Tuesdays & Thursdays is German class, Wednesday is Improv and Thursdays & Sundays is Pub trivia. It’s a simple routine, but out of that routine I have found a sense of belonging that, I think, every expat craves.
Last night I walked into the Irish pub where we play trivia every Sunday and was greeted with a smile by the cute Irish waitress and her asking if I wanted my usual Coke. The sense of belonging I got was overwhelming. I finally felt at home here. I now have a local pub where I am one of the regulars. Where I’m expected to turn up every Sunday night and sit with my friends in our usual spot, which they’ve offered to save for us, and have dinner, drink and play trivia. We have the same thing with the German pub where we go out after Improv on Wednesday nights where the owner there has now memorised our drinks order (and yes, I do appear to spend most of my time in pubs here – in fact at least 3 nights a week).
I never knew that what I was sorely missing was a sense of belonging until I found it. I now feel at home here. Here is now home, where I belong, in the community of diverse expats who also call Hamburg home.