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Tips for Immigrants on Integrating While Maintaining Connections Back Home

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If you're an immigrant, you aren't alone. There are an estimated 272 million immigrants worldwide, making up 3.5% of the global population, according to the World Economic Forum. If you've recently left your home country for the United States, there is a lot for you to discover. While you want to integrate into your new community, however, you still want to maintain close connections in your country of origin. This guide from The Balancing Center For Youth Enlightenment explains how you can feel comfortable in your new home while still supporting your original community.

Support local businesses and events.

Establishing daily routines, like frequenting the same coffee shop every morning, can help you feel at home in your new neighborhood. Whenever possible, shop at local businesses. The Institute for Local Self Reliance explains that this supports community well-being. Plus, it's a chance for you to get to know the locals who own, manage, and work in these businesses. Attending local fairs, events, and exhibitions is another way to immerse yourself in your surroundings.

Start your own business in the area.

According to Axios, one out of five entrepreneurs in the United States has an immigrant background. Why not join their ranks? Starting a new business is a great way to introduce yourself to the community. Plus, you can use your extra earnings to support your community back home. Establish a limited liability company (LLC) to get added tax advantages, allowing you to set aside more money to send back. State guidelines on LLC formation differ, so check your area's rules before proceeding.

Get a handle on your finances.

Whether you open your own business or take a job working for someone else, it's advisable to open a local bank account. You may have trouble accepting patients through a foreign account. If you want to send money back to your loved ones, create a monthly budget that includes setting aside some cash for this purpose. Look for ways to avoid added fees when sending money. Exiap provides tips on avoiding this added expense, such as using tools like WorldRemit, OFX, or Xoom.

Get to know the local language and customs.

If you're struggling with a language barrier or cultural confusion, consider taking a language course. Alternatively, hone your skills with a language exchange partner. Fluent in 3 Months explains how to find a partner — for example, by using a platform like italki. Alternatively, you can post a notice for a language exchange in a local business. Whether you opt for an online or in-person experience, there are some steps you can take to ensure success. Bilingua recommends letting your partner know how you would like to receive feedback, for example.

Carve out time to foster relationships back home.

Sending money back alone won't be enough to maintain strong bonds across long distances. Lasting the Distance provides tips on how to keep your emotional connection to your homeland. Ideas include starting family group chats, keeping track of special days like birthdays and celebrating them accordingly, and sending meaningful gifts. You might also consider flying friends or family out to visit you in your new community. This is a great way to bring your two worlds together.

Moving to a new country as an immigrant can be challenging. You might feel like you "don't fit" sometimes or get homesick. However, expanding your world can also be immensely rewarding. You may discover new opportunities in the United States that you wouldn't have had at home. Follow the above tips to make the most of the experience.

The Balancing Center For Youth Enlightenment is dedicated to creating a better future for our young people. Get involved and sign up to volunteer! -Meredith

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