The Importance of Online Community for Non-Residents
According to Willis Towers Watson's recent multinational survey, 31% of multinational companies plan to send their staff on overseas assignments in 2022. While a few employees will be sent on short-term assignments between six and 12 months, most businesses are eager to keep their workforce mobile for longer — between one and five years. Cost of living dominates in salary package negotiations, and employees are increasingly looking for flexible hours, enhanced benefits, and overall better treatment through perks or incentives. Of course, transferees also consider their future social life before making the move. Among non-residents, settling into an expatriate community is an essential factor when studying or working abroad. As we mentioned in our NeuXP blog post on adapting to a new country, meeting and engaging with colleagues, neighbors, and other expats can help you begin a new life in a new country. And compared to decades ago, it’s easier than ever to connect with fellow expats and find communities online. Different social media groups, platforms, blogs, and forums help non-residents find people who share similar experiences and grow their network away from home. Here are three reasons why online communities play a key role in expat adaptation:
You keep your sense of identity
When you stay away from home for a long time, you may sense an identity crisis — or the feelings that you’re not attached to any nationality at all. In one study published in the International Journal of Cross Cultural Management, researchers found that non-residents abroad like to maintain their identity and cultural patterns. Even though they can develop a global identity, many expats tend to seek emotional support from people who share their home country’s values and heritage. Online communities are the perfect avenue for this because it can be hard to share those feelings face-to-face. You get to talk to more people who are similarly navigating an in-between lifestyle and share news about your home country or even just discuss things in your native language.
You feel less alone
It can get intimidating and lonely when you’re adjusting to a new place, so reading (and interacting with) blog posts or forums from other non-residents can be valuable; they have a better understanding of your situation, compared to family and friends back home. As Ayima Kickstart’s write-up on establishing a web presence notes, Google users can find relevant online communities thanks to search engine optimized content. Ranking algorithms tend to reward rich and robust content, so it’s easier now to find online spaces where you can connect with people undergoing similar experiences. Often, online expat communities are richer resources for technical advice and moral support compared to in-person communities, because you get insights and viewpoints from people outside your immediate circle.
You make vital connections
Social connections are important for our survival, especially if we’re trying to fit into a new place. Making connections with fellow non-residents lets you understand the ins and outs of living in a new country, and they can even help you in case of illnesses or emergencies. In fact, having deep connections allows you to maintain your mental health. The Lancet’s research on social connectedness reveals that among older adults, social disconnectedness can link to depression and anxiety, so ‘belonging’ in a network is crucial. Online networks can serve these purposes, although they may not be as effective as in-person relationships. Online communities offer plenty of exclusive information you might not get anywhere else, such as tips on apartments, language courses, events, recipes, shops, and more — kind of like a special club for people who share the same struggles. Don't know where to start? NeuXP's community app XPlore is perfect for you. As an all-in-one app, our platform allows users to book flights and hotels, purchase tickets to different attractions, and even earn rewards alongside millions of users. Download XPlore today.
Written by Aleah Kirsten Clarke Exclusive for neuxp.com
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