/This is Option 3 out of 5 in response to “Challenge of the Week: 5 Options to consider when thinking about integration into a foreign country”/
Having a kid is a really efficient way to integrate
First of all, if you choose to have them educated in the local institutions, you get plenty of opportunities to practice the language (and the additional benefit is that those people working in Daycares & Kindergartens have really high linguistic skills, both in regards to understanding & conversing with people with very low language skills, i.e. a 1 year old kiddo and you at the beginning of your journey).
Second of all, you’ll find yourself being a part of the educational system, that you’ll most likely want to (or need to) understand, you’ll be participating in meetings. Your kid will sooner or later start get visits from “mini locals” with whom you’ll need to communicate. And as your child grows, you’ll need to embark on the “doing the homework” journey. Ergo you’ll become part of the system yourself.
Additionally having kids gives you plenty of opportunities for new friendships with other families. If integration is important for you, from now on you can decide to open up to local families.
If you are seriously thinking about having kids where you live and it is your wish to integrate, if you bundle all the three steps, in a couple of years you may find yourself well-integrated.
I actually spent the first few years in the “pink international bubble” myself. I did try to learn the local language, but because a vast majority of my life was lived in English, Polish & Spanish, I didn’t give enough attention to the Danish language. It was first when I went on the maternity leave, that I really started to practice the language.
I am also gaining a broader and broader understanding of the cultural and social life through the participation in the school life of my kiddos. Am I fully integrated? Surely not, I’m actually still quite far from that. But I am integrated enough for all the members of our family to feel at home here, and I know exactly what I need to do if I decide to deepen my integration level. I am probably somewhere on the level 25 in the 50 shades of pink. And I am slowly climbing up the ladder. With every school meeting, homework, social event, local book or movie I am gaining more knowledge and understanding.
There is no “right or wrong” action when it comes to the level of integration, you just choose what resonates with you and work your way to get to that level.