Advice for Expatriates To Improve Your Experience Abroad
When you relocate to a new county, you will become very familiar with the term expatriate or expat. You may hear individuals within your host country refer to you as an expat and you may even begin to call yourself an expatriate- but becoming an expat includes much more than a title, it’s often an entire life change.
Whether you’re chasing after a new job, a new love, or just simply a new routine, becoming an expat is an exciting way to chase after what you’re wanting to change. If you’ve never been outside your home country for longer than a business trip or a short getaway, you’ll want to check out these five great tips for expats before you begin your journey.
Do Your Research
Moving to a new country is full of change. Everything from food, healthcare, climate, laws, and customs will vary. Research what to expect on a daily basis in the new culture, along with ways you need to prepare before you go, like necessary immunizations.
Part of living in a new country is experiencing new things, it will be almost impossible to stick to the same routine that you had in your home country. Welcoming this change can help you adjust when new things come your way.
Outline Your Goals
Even if you’re relocating as part of your job, it’s still a great opportunity for personal growth. Make a few goals for what you would like to experience or achieve while abroad and stick to them. This can make your time abroad feel more productive and fulfilling- even when feeling homesick.
Look to the Locals
It’s very easy as an expat to get stuck inside an expat social circle. While it’s great to have friends that are in the same situation as you, it’s also important to get a real taste of the culture you’ve been submerged in. The best way to do this is to befriend the locals.
Even if you’re relocating permanently, it’s easier and often cheaper to not uproot your entire house. Before you begin to pack, explore the different shipping options so you can determine what you can take along and what will have to stay.
Related: What it Means to be an Expatriate
If you are newly relocated or will be relocating soon, here are a few tips to help you become accustomed to your new situation.
- Step outside your comfort zone. This can be tough for anyone who has just relocated to a new country, even those who are typically outgoing. However, the more you do, the more comfortable you will feel in your new environment. Whether this is venturing down a new path in your neighborhood when out for a run, joining a common interest club/group, or simply making the initiative to meet your neighbors, every little step will help you acclimate to your new home.
- Join the locals. Try to learn as much about the culture as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to go to the events that the locals attend. They will typically be centered around a holiday or celebration and give you great insight into what the tradition is all about. Not only will it be informative, but a great way to meet new people.
- Keep in touch with home. Becoming an expat doesn’t mean you need to cut all ties to your home country. As long as it doesn’t become a crutch, staying in contact with those back home may help motivate you to explore your new surrounds. Also, finding an expat store is helpful when adjusting to living in a new country, typically these stores will have top-selling food items from countries around the world like candy, drinks, cheeses, and spices. These stores are especially great for those with children going through the adjustment as well.
- Mingle with other expats. While you don’t want your whole social circle to be those who have migrated from other countries, it’s often helpful to have individuals who are going through the same situation as you around. Additionally, these individuals may be able to offer great insight on where to find good international services like international health insurance.
- Stay open-minded. Not everything will be the same as inside your home country, more than likely they will be very different. However, that is all part of the experience of living in a new place. While you may not love every difference, keep in mind that you more than likely don’t love everything about your home country either- and that’s ok.
Additional Tips for Preparing to Become an Expat
- Take a class: Signing up for a language, yoga, or cooking class will help you get out of the house and meeting new people (Laura Nalin)
- Invite your family to visit: Having your family come to visit will make your new home feel more like your old home.
- Get a Job: Another way to meet new people. Get out, find a job, and dive into your new life.
- Connect Via Social Networks: There are a number of Facebook, LinkedIn, and other groups specifically created for expats like you.
Related: Forums and Groups for Expats
Overall, do your research and have some fun. Talk with other expats who have done it before. Read up on your new location. Travel! Living abroad is a unique opportunity and you will look back on it and appreciate it for years to come.
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- Happy and Healthy Abroad. Live Abroad WELL.
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- Life as a US Expatriate Abroad – Things to Consider
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