The first weeks and months in a new country can be exciting yet disorienting as you adapt to a new life abroad. Here are 10 tips to make your move abroad easier.
1. Pick one or two of your favourite items and take them with you – no matter where you live.
It could be your pillow, a family photo album, your favourite mug, a handmade sweater from your mum, or your alarm clock. Basically anything that could remind you of home.
2. Do your homework.
Before moving to your new country, always look for more information. You can do this via various channels, be it Googling online, talking in forums or talking to people who have been there. It is important to note down and find out at least the first few things you can do, and the places you must know upon arrival.
3. Sign up for a local language class.
If you already speak the language, join a community club, an existing expats club or any clubs that allow you to make new friends and keep you busy. Language classes are most helpful because you’ll not only develop ever-so-important linguistic skills, you’ll also have a chance to meet other new arrivals – people who are probably just as desperate for company as you are.
4. Figure out where the locals buy their groceries.
Buying from a local store instead of an international one will save you tons of money and make you feel so much more at home. Products are usually much cheaper in stores for locals compared to those for foreigners.
5. Get a reputable agent to source your accommodation.
It might cost a bit extra but you will find a better place to live and save yourself a significant amount of the unnecessary stress that comes from living in a bad neighbourhood or somewhere far away from your work place.
6. Get a mobile phone with a local number.
A mobile phone is essential – you can call anyone in times of need, especially in your new country where you don’t know if any unforeseen problems might happen. Plus, the sooner you have a local number, the easier it is for you to make new friends. With the technology today, you can download tons of free apps that allow you to call or video call home using the internet, e.g. (Skype, Facetime, Tango, Viber, Line).
7. Go for a wander around your neighbourhood.
Take a stroll and find out where the restaurants and bars are around your area. Don’t be afraid to get lost, you can always take a taxi home or ask for directions. This is the best way to learn any new place, foreign or not.
8. Make an appointment you cannot miss on the third day you are there.
This will force you to get with the programme, get in the right time zone, and get a life. It could be anything, to sign up for a new class, to find the mall, to watch a movie, to buy some utensils for your new apartment – anything – just make sure you get it done on the third day, because sooner than three days is too soon and later than three days is too late.
9. Give yourself permission to be homesick.
It is only natural to miss home, family and friends, so don’t be too harsh on yourself and allow yourself some personal time to feel homesick and miss your friends. Try to embrace this feeling instead of fighting it – when you feel homesick, recognise that the feeling connects you to the place in which you were born or grew up and to the people you love still living there. You can always make a call home to talk to friends and family as much as you like.
10. Be grateful, friendly and polite.
The first few months in any new place, especially a foreign place, is going to be stressful. The fact is that most people live and die very close to the place they are born. You are experiencing something wonderful and unique – no matter how much it makes you want to cry, scream, or rip your hair out. You’re already here so just be grateful that you have the opportunity to see the world and experience a different culture, something millions can only dream about. Always bear in mind to be friendly and polite towards new people and new cultures and you will have no problem fitting in and making tons of friends.