Are you planning on moving abroad? If you are, you probably understand that it's a big decision that can significantly impact your life. It's something that takes more than just general country knowledge and adaptability skills. Moving to another country involves a lot of preparation.
Still, the main thing is being able to adjust your lifestyle to fit into a foreign country. If you have been to a foreign country or studied abroad, you might know a great deal about living in another country. Living in another country is no less than an adventure. It comes with some challenges as well as benefits.
You get an opportunity to experience things you probably would never experience in your home country. If you plan on moving to another country or have struggled to live in a foreign country, this article is for you! Read on to learn some fantastic tips to make your expat life much easier. But first, why is living in a new country difficult?
Challenges Of Living Abroad
Living in a foreign country for an extended period of time or just a single year can be pretty complicated. Not only is the place unfamiliar to you, but so are the people, rules, customs, culture, and lifestyle. It might take you some time (maybe a lot of time) to understand the local environment. You might also need to leave your comfort zone to truly become a part of it.
When moving abroad, you should expect to face some challenges. Dealing with these challenges is vital if you want to enjoy a smooth stay in your new country. Below is a summary of some typical challenges you might face while living in another country.
Traveling, moving, or living abroad involves a great deal of paperwork. You would need a bunch of different documents. These include your passport, visa, rent agreement, and other documents. Whether you make temporary or permanent accommodation arrangements, you might face administration issues. You might also need to sort out your mail and ensure they get posted to your new residence.
Cost of living
Planning your finances is both crucial and challenging. Depending on the country, living abroad could be cheaper or more expensive than in your home country. As such, you must do your research and find out beforehand. Once you are aware of the cost of living in the country you intend to move to, it's essential to draw up a budget.
This will help you with better financial planning and management. You should then plan how you will meet your expenses. Will someone (perhaps a scholarship board) be funding all your costs, or would you have to find a job?
You need to do financial planning long before you arrive at your destination country. Your visa, plane ticket, accommodation, food, and transport must be paid for, so ensure you are clear on how to meet these needs.
There is a high chance of language differences in your destination and home country, which could create a significant barrier to communication, especially if English is not the country's national language.
Evidently, you will not be able to converse with the people there unless you know their language. Moreover, even if you decide to learn the language, it is not a quick and effortless task. Therefore, you need to decide on how you want to learn the national language.
Do you intend to start learning the language in your home country or after arriving in the new country? Would you take a crash course or enrol in a proper language course? Whatever you decide, language can both be a challenge and a deciding factor when determining which country you should move to.
Staying away from your family and feeling homesick is another common challenge. You might not be able to anticipate it until it actually gets to you. You might feel lonely when you do not have your loved ones around you to interact with.
Whether you want to share a wonderful experience or a bad day, you will have to wait until you can contact them over the phone. This loneliness can get more intense if you live alone in a new country.
You'll need to be mentally prepared to experience this feeling, although it varies from person to person. One way to solve it is to often stay in touch with your family through calls and messages. Also, you'll need to be prepared for the time difference. Different time zones can create a significant barrier to communication.
The expat bubble
When living in a foreign country, expats tend to stick to what they already know. This includes eating familiar food and making friends with other expats from the same country. This is a good thing, but overdoing it can be detrimental.
You might get stuck in the expat bubble if you only socialize with expats. It restricts you from having many memorable learning experiences. Consequently, you might miss out on a lot of fun experiences by ignoring the local culture. This will also limit your growth, which you would otherwise get from learning and experiencing new things.
Every country has its own local culture that varies significantly from others. Culture shock is a major challenge you might have to overcome on your expat journey. You might find some similarities between the culture you're used to and this new culture; however, several practices might be wholly new and surprising to you.
The shock associated with new and unexpected cultural practices is known as culture shock. Culture shock hits each person differently, meaning that some expats might be affected by it more than others. It is imperative not to let this get to you too much.
Otherwise, you will have a tough time adjusting to the country. Prepare yourself mentally so you can get over the culture shock and adapt to the new country as soon as possible. It might take time, but you will get used to your new environment.
When you are new to a place, everything seems exciting. You are eager to discover new things quickly. Over time, this excitement starts fading. You might get bored with the things that seemed attractive at the beginning. This is a common challenge you might face, and you'll need to find a way out.
Once boredom takes over your mind, you might get distracted. It may also make you feel homesick. Do not overwhelm yourself with too much eagerness at the beginning. Slow down and relax. Take your time to explore things slowly and gradually. This will preserve their charm and keep it exciting for you for a long time.
Community building takes time
Without friends and family, you tend to build relations with the local community. Of course, building a community takes time, patience, and consistent efforts. You have to find the people that seem appropriate for building relations. It also takes time to develop trust between you and these people.
You'll need to make an effort to find like-minded people abroad. Use your interpersonal skills to approach them and build relations with them. Sometimes you will have to leave your comfort zone and go out to test your extroverted side if you're introverted. You might have to attend community events and volunteer abroad to connect with as many people as possible.
New dietary adjustments
A new country means new cuisine. You might be able to get what you used to eat in your homeland. When you move abroad, you have to adjust to a new diet. You might get to taste and like unfamiliar foods, but you have to ensure that you are not allergic to any specific food item.
Unplanned and unorganized eating habits can lead to food poisoning. You must be patient enough to control your diet and observe how your body reacts to unfamiliar food. It is better if you can cook for yourself too.
Tips For Living In Another Country
You can tackle the above challenges by following some clever tips and tricks as described below.
Learn the local language
If you are setting down roots in a region that has a different local language, it's a great idea to learn the language. It is a significant advantage to know more than one language. You will need to communicate with the local people frequently. You cannot always rely on sign language or pointing at different things to make others understand you.
Sooner or later, you have to learn the language, so why not start early? It is better to start learning before leaving for your destination. It might take you several weeks to learn the basics. After a few months of regular practice, you should be able to speak it to some extent.
If the language of your host country is English, learn the major differences in the language to become fluent in it. Language is often the most significant barrier you will face as an expat. It also affects your socializing and networking opportunities. It is essential to learn the language as soon as possible.
Immerse yourself in the local culture
The most effective trick to overcome culture shock and adapt to a new environment is to immerse yourself in that culture. There are several ways to do so. Try to learn about the local traditions and practices. Roam around the city to explore it. Talk to people to better understand their culture, norms, and traditions.
Visiting famous public places, museums, and parks is another good way to learn about the local culture. You can take some friends with you on this journey or make friends as you meet new people. Participate in local events and become an active part of the community. Keep your mind and heart open to embrace the foreign culture.
Accept the change
Expect the change when you have traveled to a different place from your hometown. Everything might not be the same as it used to be in your home city. Be ready for it and have the flexibility to adapt to it. Do not shy away from adapting to new things, as it leads to valuable learning.
Once you accept the change, it becomes easier to embrace it. Instead of trying to change things, learn to accept them. Staying humble and respectful toward the foreign culture is the only way to smoothly transition from an expat to a compatriot.
Make friends with other expats
Making friends with expats can help you survive your international journey. People from the same country as yours can make you feel at home. There are several benefits of having them as your friends. First, they might face or have faced the same challenges as you, so they can help you find a quick and easy way to deal with them.
You can learn so much from their experience. You can freely use your language with them, which can feel like a blessing in a foreign country. Even if they are as new to the country as you, you can find solutions to your problems together. It is easy to talk to them and share your concerns. Since you have similar issues, you can make collective efforts to get rid of them.
Stay in touch with your loved ones
Once you reach your destination country, do not cut off all ties with your loved ones in your home country. Keep a connection with them. It might seem complicated, and you might lack time, but spend a few minutes daily talking to your family and friends. This keeps your mind fresh and prevents homesickness.
The availability of multiple social networking sites has made communication easier. It is not always necessary to call them. You can leave a message when busy or keep them updated about your activities through social media posts. Whatever method you choose, stay in touch with people back home.
Prepare well before leaving
Moving to another country is entirely different from your local visits, so prepare for it well. Make sure you will have all your essentials once you reach your destination. You need health insurance, a bank account, a mobile phone, a credit card, an internet connection, and a residence permit. Make arrangements for them beforehand.
Whether you are moving to a temporary or permanent residence, you will require these things. Not having the basics can cause you a lot of trouble. Save yourself from this stress, and make sure you are all set. Good planning is a lifesaver for expats.
Staying updated on the latest information is crucial for you as an expat. You need to know about your surroundings. Using multiple sources of information is better than relying on one.
Watch the news daily and stay active on social networking sites. You may find valuable pieces of information there that are otherwise not available. Your friends, including other expats and locals, can also help you get to know about the latest happenings.
As a student, you should know about education policies, international students' laws, scholarships, and job opportunities for students. If you are seeking a job, learn about different job boards in that country. Make sure you stay well informed about these things.
Blend in with the local people
When you are living in a new country, do not confine yourself to other expats only. Push past your comfort zone and start getting to know local people as well. It will help make adjusting to the new environment easier for you. It might seem quite daunting initially, but once you try it, you will get comfortable with it.
Meeting new individuals and learning about them is a considerable part of your expat life. Interact with local shopkeepers, mail carriers, or security guards. This will also help you become fluent in the language, so you can interact with other locals more confidently.
Get secure housing
Finding safe and secure accommodation in a foreign country, especially a big city, is not easy. This is something you need to give prior attention to. You need to find good accommodation at affordable rates. This means you need to be flexible with your specifications regarding housing.
An amazing apartment with the greatest view and a central location might be a dream you need to set aside at the beginning of your life as an expat if you really can't afford it. You can easily consult a real estate agent or a local friend or use an online program to find the best housing at reasonable rates.
You can search for a suitable option according to your specifications. For instance, if you are a student, you might need a place close to your university to save you time and transportation costs. Living alone or getting a shared apartment can be another consideration.
Is Living Abroad Worth It?
Living abroad significantly impacts your personal development. But that's not all. Below are more compelling reasons why living abroad is an opportunity worth taking whenever you get it.
Everything you learn on your journey abroad contributes to your personal growth and development. Whether you learn a new language, learn about a culture, make new friends, visit new places, or cook new dishes, it is all reflected in your personal growth. Living abroad is not only about exploring the world but also exploring yourself.
You tend to reflect more on yourself and consequently get to learn a lot about your personality and talents. The continuous process of self-reflection helps you develop and grow. It enhances your learning and develops your reflecting capabilities. You may see a rise in your self-confidence and interpersonal skills.
Broad perspective of life
Moving abroad introduces you to a completely different perspective of life. You learn things that you may never have imagined before. Living among foreign people and adopting a new lifestyle also broadens your views about life. It is an enlightening experience if you have a learning attitude.
You may have to try things you never did in your home country. The best part is that you tend to enjoy most of them. Instead of trying to alter things to match your practices, you should try to fit into the place. Traveling, working, observing, and learning all add to broadening your worldview.
Living abroad opens doors for massive networking opportunities. You have people around you from different parts of the world. They might belong to a different culture, profession, and geographical area. You get a chance to know them and introduce yourself to them.
The students at your college, your neighbors, and your colleagues at the workplace all become a part of your network. The network and connections you build grow stronger over time. They play a significant role in your personal and professional growth.
Development of social skills
Moving abroad unlocks your social skills. Once you are put out of your comfort zone in a foreign country, you get the chance to develop your social skills. In a single day, you can meet a lot of people, and you will use your social skills to interact with them. You might hesitate initially, but you can get good at it with time.
The only key way to develop your social skills is by practicing them. There is no easier moment to do so than when embarking on a foreign journey. Even if you are not ready to get out of your comfort zone in the beginning, you will need friends when you feel homesick.
When you live abroad all on your own, you eventually become self-reliant and resourceful. This is an amazing life skill to possess. Meeting new people, dealing with anxiety and stress, swiping away homesickness, and managing your finances all make you self-dependent.
From undertaking simple tasks such as doing your laundry to planning and managing your monthly budget, you learn to do these tasks your own way. Not only do you become enough for yourself, but you are also able to help other expats. This gives you the necessary confidence to face any challenge in life.
Get Settled In Your New Country
Living in a foreign country might feel like a dream come true. However, it is not easy. Make sure you plan well and have all your necessities at your disposal. Do not rush or overwhelm yourself. Whenever you feel the need for guidance or help, ask for it. Reach out to an expert to help you deal with relocation issues; for instance, mail forwarders can help you deal with issues with getting your mail posted to your new home.
Even if you are in a foreign country, do not hesitate to interact with the locals and remove any confusions you have. Stay open to learning from challenges and have a positive attitude.