Has your American existence stagnated? Do you feel like rebooting everything from your friendships to your eating habits? Well, we can’t turn you off and on again, Brits, but we can offer some refreshing advice designed to ensure that your coming year in the U.S. is a great one.
Meet new people
This mantra occupies about 90 percent of every beginner expat’s headspace because we’re all desperate to feel settled and normal in our host nation as soon as possible. But eventually our thirst for fresh friends—and the effort we’re prepared to put in to make them—wanes. However, some new numbers on your speed dial might be just the thing to pep up the next 12 months. We Brits have a habit of waiting for other people to make the introductions, so make 2015 the year that you introduce yourself to strangers at social gatherings, like a proper grownup American.
Visit the homeland
As an expat in the U.S., it’s easy to forget to go back to the U.K., sometimes for years at a time. I know people who constantly postpone their next trip to the U.K. and feel near toxic levels of guilt about neglecting their friends and family. They say they can’t really afford the airfare, plus they feel like they’ve now left it so long now their British friends won’t take them back. My advice would be to try and save the cash and book a trip. Once you’ve touched down in Blighty, necked a few pints with your mates and wandered around Boots marveling at how British drugstores manage to make rows of tampon boxes look pretty, you’ll wonder why you stayed away so long.
Explore the U.S.
America is big, especially the middle bit. And states like Utah and Wisconsin (which I’m guessing are about as on your radar as Uzbekistan) are gloriously alien and stunningly pretty. Better still, they’re in the country where you live! Go to them.
Apply for new jobs
Even if you came to the U.S. to do a specific job, your work permit might allow you to switch it up. Common visas like the H1B are transferable between employers, so don’t assume your only option is to stick it out at a company you hate or leave the country.
Even if you, like myself, have developed a serious buffalo wing habit and put on over a stone within six weeks of moving here, you can get back in shape. Now’s the time: Put down the family-sized bucket of fried chicken and head to the gym.
Years after moving here, do you still have nightmare flashbacks about apartment hunting? Specifically, the extortionate broker’s fee and that thing where you try, again and again, to convince slum landlords you’re a reputable person worthy of their borderline condemnable accommodation even though you don’t happen to have a credit rating. Well, chances are that by now you do have an American credit rating, and you’ll have an easier time finding a nice home. So don’t cling to grotty digs. Find a new abode for a happier 2015.
Become a pretend tourist
Expats turn their noses up at doing anything that could mark them out as a mere sightseer in the place they now call home. (Unless of course we’re pretending to be on holiday to get special treatment or a discount.) The label of “tourist” terrifies most expats, but it shouldn’t. Visiting is fun, otherwise people wouldn’t do it. So rather than shunning the Empire State building, Sears Tower or Hollywood Walk of Fame next time you’re nonchalantly passing by, stop, look and whip out your iPhone.
Use your vacation days
Americans don’t get a lot of time off. Or if they do, there’s a definitely a culture of not taking full advantage of your meager allowance. Speaking from atop the ivory tower where freelance writers gather to frolic, I say: sod that for a game of soldiers. Take a break. You’re European, damn it, it’s expected. And while you’re off work, do at least one thing on this headily optimistic list.