How Immigrants Can Connect In Both Their New and Old Countries

By: Jenna Sherman

Staying connected with multiple groups of people is never an easy feat, but this is made especially hard when those you care about are located in different countries. Thus, those who immigrate to the United States may find it difficult to manage both new and old relationships. The hurdles one must overcome may include everything from language barriers to budget constraints. Even so, there are several things that help immigrants form new connections while maintaining previous ones.

1. Prioritize Communication

As ReGain explains, communication is a central component of every significant relationship. Whether you are aiming to connect with a new neighbor or stay in touch with a close relative, it’s vital that you seek out effective means of communication. This can be challenging when it comes to speaking with people outside the country, as international calls and text messages can be expensive. Consider using apps or sites that allow you to internationally call, text and even video chat for free.

One issue that may prevent you from openly communicating with your new neighbors is learning and adjusting to an unfamiliar language or regional vocabulary. Using language apps, making flashcards and simply pushing through challenging conversations are all good ways to strengthen language skills.

2. Budget Carefully

Because money has the potential to impact many of the avenues by which you stay connected, and since nearly 15 percent of U.S. immigrants experience poverty, it’s important to save and spend wisely. That being said, there may be times when you want to send something special to your homeland and those loved ones who remain there. You can do this while still being cost-conscious.

If you’re from Cebu City, for instance, you might decide to send a balikbayan box to your Philippines-based friends and family members. Moneymax recommends checking with international shipping companies like Planet Express, Johnny Air Plus and UnboxMe to find the best prices and speeds for your box. On the other hand, perhaps you wish to send a bouquet to commemorate a special occasion. In addition to comparing prices, look into the fees, customer service and selection available when comparing international florists. 

Many immigrants hope to support their families back home by sending regular sums of money. In this situation, you may wish to utilize a money transfer service like Remitly that allows you to safely send funds internationally with minimal fees. Depending on the amount of money you’re sending and how quickly it needs to reach your recipient, you could take advantage of economy transfers and have no fees involved whatsoever.

3. Find Ways To Get Involved

It is also essential that you seek out activities, groups or other means of being involved in both your new and your home countries. In your current neighborhood, this could be as simple as inviting a new friend over for dinner, signing your child up for a sports team or joining a religious organization. Look into participating in local groups, like NETworX, that discuss critical issues like racial equity. While it may be more difficult to find ways to stay involved back home, you may be able to act as an advocate for other people who are immigrating to the U.S. from your country of origin.

4. Travel When Possible

A final tip to keep in mind is that virtual conversations are useful, but they cannot entirely replace in-person visits. Though it may not be financially feasible at first, consider saving small amounts of money each month to put in a travel fund. There are also some tricks that may help you find cheaper flights; try booking through a website like Kayak that will help you find the cheapest flights available, and travel at times not close to holidays.

Additionally, you may benefit from traveling within the U.S. Even a short road trip can help you get to know your new area better, meet new people and experience your region’s top attractions.

Building and strengthening relationships in two different countries requires a lot of patience and determination. Even so, by investing in communication, saving money, joining new groups and taking occasional trips, you can be deeply connected in both places.

The Mooresville Area Christian Mission is dedicated to helping people better their lives through mentoring and training opportunities. To find out how they can help you, or to get involved, call 704-664-2357 today!