This is a guest article from Hire A Mover.
Uprooting your life and moving to a whole different country is no walk in the park. The prospect may be exciting and exhilarating – but it also requires a ton of work. The paperwork, immigration forms, insurance contracts, research time, adjusting period and the inevitable culture shock is enough to scare off any potential expat. But as with everything else in life, the stress and discomfort are merely temporary. With these few but essential tips, you’ll be able to make the most out of your expat experience.
1. Do your homework
Prior to making the move, research as much as you can about your future home.
Learn about its history, culture, basic geography, significant public figures, language, currency, basic greeting and dining etiquette, public transportation, etc. If you prepare yourself for the cultural differences beforehand, you’ll find yourself adjusting much easier.
It will also save you the embarrassment of accidentally offending locals.
2. Don’t bring your entire closet
Regardless of how many years you’ll spend abroad, you don’t necessarily need to bring two or three years’ worth of belongings. Keep the sentimental trinkets to a minimum and bring only what is essential.
Remember, you can always buy new things wherever you’re planning to move. Clothes, appliances, accessories, books and home decorations can all be easily bought elsewhere.
If there are some things you just can’t leave without, you could also opt to ship them internationally, though it may take a toll on your wallet.
3. Know these three things before you land
It’s perfectly alright to not have your entire plan sorted out before you land. However, it is important that you at least have these three bits of information: a place to stay, a doctor’s number and a local bank account.
As long as you have a roof over your head for the first few days, you’re good to go. A doctor’s number is critical should something happen to you. And of course, you’ll need a local bank to help you sort through your financials. Ask your bank in your home country if they have foreign branches or partners that can help you with the process.
4. Embrace the language
Most expats recommend learning the Basic Four before even landing: ‘Hello’, ‘Goodbye’, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’. Other essential words are as simple as ‘you’, ‘me’, ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘here’, as well as a couple of common phrases and expressions.
After mastering the basics, devote a few months to seriously learn the language. It may be taxing, but you’ll see how rewarding it is in the end. It will become so much easier to get around, communicate with locals, and essentially feel like you belong in the country.
5. Always bring evidence that proves you’re who you say you are
When asked for an ID in banks, restaurants or bars, it’s best to present your passport as it’s the most legal and trustworthy document you have to identify yourself. Some establishments may not accept driver licenses issued in another country, and understandably so.
6. Befriend the locals
It’s normal to want to befriend people from the same country as you, but befriend the locals first and foremost.
They’ll help you better assimilate into the culture. Locals can offer priceless knowledge about the country, and they know all the best spots the place has to offer.
Keep in mind, though, not to burden your potential new friends with complaints and comparisons between your new home and your home country. Talk to them about their lives, how living there has shaped who they are and how to ultimately survive in this new country.
7. Don’t play the comparison game
Once you’ve moved abroad, you’ll begin to notice the differences between this new country and your beloved home country. It might disappoint you that certain services don’t seem to exist in the country or that the weather is simply insufferable.
Though true, the comparison game is a sure-fire way to kill off any chance of you prospering in your new home. If you choose to hang onto the past and compare it to the present, you’ll only make yourself more miserable.
Once you accept that some things are simply out of your control, you’ll realize that what you don’t like about the new country is actually what makes it utterly unique and what attracted you in the first place.
8. Immerse yourself in the culture
When you befriend the locals, it will become so much easier to immerse yourself in the culture and history of the country.
Don’t let any differences stop you from enjoying and celebrating the culture of your new home. Embrace that difference and let it shape and enrich you as a person and a citizen of the world.
9. Join communities
A quick Google search will show you hundreds of opportunities, such as yoga classes, art lessons, choirs, religious groups, volunteer groups, specific interest groups and so much more. Cities around the world also offer opportunities to meet fellow expats at social gatherings or conferences. Make the most out of these experiences to gain lifelong friends.
10. While abroad, take the opportunity to visit neighbouring cities and countries
When you move abroad, it doesn’t mean that you’re required to stay there the whole time. Take the opportunity to travel to nearby cities, countries and places you would have otherwise had little to no chance of ever visiting.
11. Start a blog
This may be the most millennial advice ever, but starting a blog would be a great way to document your time abroad and to let loved ones back home know how you are. It will also help you come to terms with your experiences and new way of life.
Wait more than six months before returning to your homeland. The first six months are particularly harsh, and going back too soon will make it all the more difficult to return to your new home as it would only remind you of everything you love about your home country. Wait until you are fully settled in the new country before taking that flight.
13. It gets better
As we said earlier, the first few months can be rough. The adjustment period is never easy.
But after a while, you’ll soon see your list of worries start to disappear until you feel fully at home in your new country. You’ll soon get into the groove of things and have a number of people you call friends.
So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed in the first months, remember that it does get better and you’ll soon be grateful that you chose to move abroad.
New countries are scary, yes, but the experience will only make you a better person. Don’t let the fear of not adjusting or fitting in stop you from experiencing the new country to the fullest. The more you get out there and explore your new world, the more it will begin to feel familiar, and eventually, you wouldn’t hesitate to call it home.
Author Bio: Jessica is the head of content for Hire A Mover – her father’s moving company. In her spare time, she enjoys travelling around the world to different surf spots and tasting the local cuisine.