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Posted on Thursday, May 25, 2023

Welcome to Part Ten of our Goer Essentials series, where we’ve asked Goers to sound off on the essentials to thriving in life overseas. In today’s article, we cover dealing with culture shock. 

GOER ESSENTIALS:  Essentials to Thriving in Life Overseas

For this Goer Essential series, we surveyed Goers who are serving two-year global placements.  These articles are your chance to hear directly from Goers as they share their triumphs, best practices, amusing gaffes, and deep experiences of learning to live, thrive and make an impact while immersed in a new culture!

Part 10:  Housewarming

Moving to a new home is never easy. In fact, Americans often rate it as the most stressful event in their lives, over things like having a child, putting a child through college, or a big breakup.  And that’s just moving within your own area.  

Throwing in new languages, cultures, currencies, and everything else doesn’t exactly make stress levels drop.  

So we asked Goers what things they brought with them to help make their new space feel more like home once they got there.  Read on for some tips about the best things to throw in a suitcase to make a space halfway around the world feel like home.


Several of our Goers took the housewarming idea very literally bringing along some blankets from home.

“Blankets! There are no shortages of blankets in the country I live in, but something about a familiar item that's both visible and cozy makes my space feel like home. Especially since I have a special blanket that was gifted to me by my best friend and her family, it reminds me that I'm wrapped in love by people who love me even far away.”

-Mariana, Bulgaria

“When I moved overseas, I brought a few things with me to make my new home feel like my old home. The first thing I brought were my own sheets. Having my own sheets from home really made me feel like home. I also brought a throw blanket for a piece of comfort.”

-Hannah, Zambia

Familiar sights from home

If you’re stuck and can’t decide what to take just look around your space for something that will fit in a suitcase!

“The power of having something from your old space in your new space is huge! I have a tapestry that's hung in every home I've had over the last five years, from dorms to camps to touring, it's always been there. Once it was hung up in my new flat, it instantly made it feel so much more like home because I'd been looking at it in every home I'd had for the last few years. Also, a favorite mug is a really sweet thing to have, especially if it's in your rythym to start the day off with a warm drink that little touchpoint of home at the beginning of the day is such a sweet thing.”

-Angie, Germany

“String lights!! I brought a set of curtain string lights from home and have them hanging in my window. It makes my room so cozy and reminds me of my room back home!”

-Taylor, Mexico

“I also brought my giant Harry Styles poster that has been with me for the past ten years hehe.”

-McKenna, Central Asia


Beyond just seeing things from your old home, Liz recommends candles to make the space smell more like home.

“Honestly, I wish I brought more candles! There are a lot of smells in this place and most of them are not great. While there are some candles here, they are hard to come by and are usually either really expensive or just smell weird. Bringing candles that you know you love and enjoy helps rid your space of the overwhelming outside smells, and also brings you a sense of home.”

-Liz, North Africa

Bring your hobby with you

Moving to a new place doesn’t always mean you have to leave your hobby behind.  Being able to continue your hobby can help you feel connected to your old home and can sometimes lead to an opportunity to build relationships in your new home.

“I brought crafting/art supplies for hobbies. That has been a way for me to relax, which is so important in this country. Rest looks different here but some of my supplies from home have helped me create a good rhythm of rest.”

-Allison, East Africa

Something that helps keep you rooted in Christ

“I moved to join a team in the U.S. so my packing and travel to the field was a lot simpler than what is required when crossing an ocean or two. So I was able to bring a plant from home. This plant has become symbolic of my journey and a testament to how the Lord is continuing to sustain and grow me as I too dwell in a new climate and learn to put down roots. While the trip was difficult on the plant - 72 hours in the car isn't good for anyone - and the first few months it was purely in recovery, trying to stay alive, eventually I repotted it in fresh soil and it has again begun to grow and stand strong! The Lord uses this to remind me that I too have been brought to a new land where life looks different and am required to settle into new soil; but when I do, truly putting my roots down in this new place, I am free to grow and stand even stronger than I was before.”

-Emily, U.S.

Not everyone can take a plant with them when they move.  But we love the symbolism that Emily found through moving with a plant.  What are some things you could take that will help point you to the Author and Sustainer of your life?  Is there an old prayer journal that you’ve kept for a while?  Or maybe you could have some of the people closest to you share some of their favorite scriptures with you in a notebook.

“Two other things that made the trip were scriptures from my grandma and one of my favorite books. Both are special to me in different ways and have helped make this transition easier for me.”

-Natalie, Romania


A picture may be worth a thousand words, but our Goers shared about a thousand words about the importance of bringing pictures with you.  

“Bring pictures! Printed pictures of all shapes and sizes are super important and can make your place feel welcoming and lived in. If you have the space, frames are a good idea too. You can’t buy picture frames in a lot of countries, or if you can, they are very expensive.”

-Hannah, Zambia

“I also have several pictures of friends and family hung on my walls.”

-Taylor, Mexico

“Pictures are always helpful to bring a little bit of home with you.”

-Natalie, Romania

“Bringing pictures and letters was the right move! I have a wall with a bunch of pictures of my family and friends back home. It's a reminder that I have people who are praying for me even from far far away. I like reading their letters when I feel homesick.”

-McKenna, Central Asia

“I wish I would have brought more pictures. My roommate traveled back to the States at one point and she brought some pictures that my family sent her back for me. It has been a huge blessing and I have enjoyed decorating my room with them.”

-Allison, East Africa


Moving is stressful.  Moving across cultures and international borders even more so.  But by bringing along a few things to make your new space feel like your old space you can settle in sooner and make it feel like home sooner.  

Key Takeaways

  • Bring pictures!
  • Bring some of the things you’ve had for a while that help you feel at home in your current space

Dive Deeper



From a young age, Luke has had a desire to serve the Lord through missions. After graduating from the University of Alabama in 2012, Luke joined the staff of a small start-up mission organization in Alabama to help with operations. While on staff there, Luke attended a Perspectives class where his understanding of unreached people groups and a passion for getting the Gospel to them deepened. In 2017, Luke moved to Scotland where he served as a mobilizer for just over two years. Now back in Alabama, Luke has joined GoCorps staff to serve in both operations and mobilization. He and his wife, Helen, have a daughter and a son. Luke enjoys traveling, board games, and running.

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