No matter how traveled you may be, moving to a new country is always an experience. And if it is your first time, then it may seem like nothing makes sense when you get there. But take heart in knowing that you are not the only one who has felt this way. Many expats often experience what you are experiencing and it is helpful to lean on them for support once you are in a foreign country.
Here are a few things that most expats agree are things that you should always remember:
- Be prepared to be overwhelmed. In the beginning, you won’t know anything (unless you have visited often before). Homesickness will strike you and not necessarily quickly. You may become depressed by the differences between your country and the new one you have settled in; frustrated by not knowing how to do seemingly simple things. Be positive! You have to allow yourself to adjust and settle in. You can’t jump to the conclusion that you made a mistake and picked the wrong country…it will be the same for every country outside of your home country.
- Be curious. They say curiosity killed the cat, but not being curious will kill your chances of really enjoying your new home. A desire to know things better and understand how things work will help you assimilate into your new surroundings and get you that much closer to becoming a “local”.
- Learn the language. If you have moved to a country that speaks your mother tongue, then you are one step ahead. If not, then learning the language will provide you that extra edge to integrate well into the culture of your new home. Plus, a growing mastery of the language will help pave the path towards new friendships and relationships.
- Know yourself. Living abroad provides an outstanding opportunity to get to know your own self – both strengths and weaknesses. Moving to an unfamiliar place will test your patience and endurance as you stumble through the beginning months of learning how to do things. But don’t let this bring you down! There is a lot to learn; use this as an opportunity to really discover the unknown and/or hidden potential within you. You are stronger than you think and you will be able to persevere.
- Keep in contact. Acclimating and getting to know your new country is going to take time and until you make some new friends, the feeling of loneliness sometimes will creep up. Keeping in touch with friends and family back home will help you feel connected and provide the strength to carry on. Today, staying in touch is easier than ever before: Cheap or free phone calls back home, video calls, email, Facebook or Twitter all are ways that make the move overseas less lonesome. Though you may be away from what is happening with family or old friends, technology provides a number of ways to keep up with the current events and not miss out on what happened at your cousin’s birthday party.
If you liked this, you may also like: Expat Life – Live as a Local or Stay in the Expat Community? or any of our expat Tip of the Week posts.