After You Arrive

Once you and your children have arrived, the sponsor's job shifts toward helping you establish a circle of friends and acquaintances that will allow you and your kids to settle in to a life style. Ask if your sponsor would be willing to host a small party, lunch, barbeque or other get together soon after you arrive to introduce you to his/her own group of friends.

Ask your sponsor for introductions to playgroups, church events, library story hours, crÃÆ'¨ches or other places you can meet parents with children. If you have the language skills for the host country, request that some of the introductions be for groups that include predominately host country families.

If child care is available at your new home, ask if your sponsor could recommend a baby sitter, or day care alternative that s/he has used.

If you or your kids already belong to an organization with overseas chapters (such as Girl Scouts, or a social organization such as the Rotary or Elks clubs), ask if your sponsor can help you get together with the local members.

This is a big favor, but if your sponsor is willing, ask that she take you on a quick tour of the neighborhood, pointing out shops, parks, kid-friendly favorite restaurants, toy stores, libraries, book shops, dry cleaner and barber shops. Some of these places might be in locations you wouldn't stumble into on your own, while other times the sponsor's recommendation of one market over another could save you from repeating others' mistakes in wasting time and money on inferior or unsafe service (and speaking of favorite restaurants, buying lunch for your sponsor and his five year old in the middle of all this is a good idea).

When we first moved to London in mid-winter knowing no one, the biggest break through came in reading about a playgroup that met in a hall near our new apartment. After a couple of visits I suddenly knew several families with kids the right age near us and found we had lots in common, in that some of them just moved to England about the same time we did. With the weather and a newborn, I really felt isolated at first, but this group changed all that. Now, eight years later, I still keep in touch with a couple of those families.

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