first-apartment

*Adjusting to American culture can be difficult for immigrants.

The food, the people, the stores and the way people get from place to place are different from many other places in the world.

Simply finding your way around or getting your driver’s license can be somewhat of a challenge. Once you’ve crossed these things off your list and found an apartment, it’s time to make your place feel like home. Here are five ways to do just that:

Furniture

In most industries, the U.S. doesn’t want for variety — this includes furniture. Choose items that remind you of where you came from, in addition to being comfortable and functional. It may be difficult to afford what you want at first, but often thrift shops and secondhand stores will have a decent selection.

Rugs and curtains are also usually inexpensive and are easy ways to make your apartment feel like your own home.

Lighting

Lamps and lights can really set the tone in your apartment, especially if you don’t get a lot of natural light. Pay attention to where you put them and how each placement can affect the mood of a room.

A few standing or table top lamps can really make a difference. You can also change the bulbs in your overhead lights to ones that give off softer light or come in different colors.

Smell

Incense, candles and other air fresheners can also work to change the feel of a room. Choose something that is uniquely yours and reminds you of home. Mild smells — ones that are not too harsh and don’t assault your senses as soon as you walk in the room — are often best.

There are many types of air fresheners available, including ones you plug into the wall. Just be sure to check your apartment lease regulations before lighting candles or burning incense. You may need to find other ways to keep your apartment smelling like home.

Photos

Display photos of you and your family. Don’t just limit this to the family you have here with you in the states; include others who might be back home or coming at a later time. Include pictures of you and your loved ones doing fun things, even if they were just taken on a small camera or phone. There are also digital picture frames that can display many different pictures in a slide show format.

Being homesick is normal, but photos can ease the feeling and help you feel connected even when you are far away.

Items from Home

Did you bring items from home that mean a lot to you and your family? Find a way to display these in your new apartment, whether by hanging them up, sitting them on a table by the door or in one of your living areas. These items, much like photos, will serve as reminders of home and help you deal with transitioning to living in a new country. They’ll also make your apartment unique and show pride about where you’re from.

While your new apartment may not be your ideal home — at least at first — making these adjustments to your living space will make your transition to life in the United States much easier.