Code of Conduct for Foreigners

Years ago, when I set up the Belgrade Foreign Visitors Club, I wanted to formulate a Code of Conduct for members of the club, foreigners living in Serbia. I never did, but here is the list I came up with. It is a flawed list, sure, but it has served me well living almost my entire adult life  as an immigrant in multiple countries.

  1. Obey the laws – Obey the laws of the land, even the petty bureaucratic laws
  2. Contribute – Give something back economically, socially and culturally
  3. Be positive– Focus on the positives of your new home
  4. Be loyal – Be as loyal as you can to your host country
  5. Learn the language – Make an effort to learn at least the basics of the language
  6. Learn the history – Learn about the history of the country and its peoples
  7. Be neutral – Try and be as neutral as possible on contentious local matters or conflicts
  8. Try not to judge – Try not to be too judgemental about local negatives. Nowhere is perfect
  9. Show, don’t tell – Do not lecture the locals about how to be, act, think. Teach by example, not complaint
  10. If you hate the place, leave – If you hate the place, do not inflict your misery on others, be brave and leave

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