Every year, thousands of people relocate and start a new life in a new country, but is life abroad really for you?
Life abroad can be a bundle of laughs and fun for some people, but on the other hand, can make others feel homesick and depressed. The moving process can be stressful and difficult, even if your just moving down the street, but moving to another continent or country is a life changing decision and must be carefully planned. If you are thinking about moving abroad, how can you tell if you would suit life abroad?
Almost everyone can relate to the feeling of starting a new career or moving house and you often wonder how long it will be before you feel you that you are no longer the ‘new one’ or the ‘new kid on the block’. Most of us feel very uncomfortable about being or feeling different and yearn to fit in. Moving abroad is the same, although you must remember that the process of settling in can take longer and unfortunately, some people never feel as though they feel at home and return to their home country. However, some expats feel right at home straight away and are very comfortable with life abroad and the differences that they come across. If you are not used to livign abroad, maybe you are too used to your home comforts and being around your family and friends, then settling in to a new life will naturally seem quite difficult. In your home country, what do you do when times are tough? It is very comforting to visit our friends and family and share our problems, but it isn’t always that easy when you live far away and your friends from home can’t relate to your problems that you are experiencing abroad. It is very important to make new friends and acquaintances abroad, as they will be able to help you with learning the language, daily life and are good company for you. Some countries may differ a lot from your home country and you must always bare in mid that you have chosen to live their and therefore must accept the way of life. Another thing to consider, is how homesick you may get. Do you go on holiday and are always happy to return, do you rely heavily on your friends and family at home, can you live without your home comforts and current way of life?
Learning the Lingo
Although not every country has a new language for you to learn, other places may have a new language and new alphabet for you to master. If you choose to live in a country where you must learn a new language, then it is important to learn the language to integrate with the locals. Busier towns and cities may have English speakers and therefore communicating with people is initially made easier. However, for those living in rural areas it is vital to learn the language, as many people living in rural areas may not know a second language, due to many of the residents in rural areas are often elderly. Learning a new language can be a difficult task, especially when it feels that you aren’t making any progress, but it is important to continue and learn some useful words and phrases.
Integrating in a new country is one of the most important and most difficult aspects of living abroad. When you first arrive in a new country, there is a high possibility that every friend you have is a new friend and for some people, this can be quite daunting, where as others find that making new friends is all part of the exciting new experience. When relocating abroad, there is always differences between your new home compared to where you are from. These differences may range from religion to food, the language to the culture or even the people and the way of life. Getting involved in the country’s traditions, celebrations and trying the cuisine are all important parts of integrating and shows how eager you are to integrate well. The country may be more hospitable or less hospitable than your home country, but it also a good idea to make the effort to socialize in the local bars and cafes and accept invitations to celebrations, parties and gatherings.
Some countries are more used to seeing foreigners than others, for some nationalities, seeing a foreigner for the first time is very new for them and there could be a chance that you could even be the first foreign person that they have ever seen. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be made unwelcome or treated unfairly; by being friendly and making the first steps to ‘break the ice’, you will help to make things a lot easier and you will be be more accepted. On the other hand, some places are full of foreigners and tourists and you may find that there are many people of the same nationality as you. Having a circle of friends who are also foreign can be good to start with, as they have probably lived there longer than you and therefore know the ropes however, it is too easy to make friends just with foreigners which is not always a good idea, especially when you are living abroad. A very important thing that many people forget, is that it is quite common for many of your fellow expat friends to return to their home countries, often you may gain a new friend and lose another. When it comes to making friends, have a mixture of friends, locals and expats, don’t just have a circle of expat friends.
A common topic about life abroad, is the local cuisine. Many people say how much they enjoy trying to dishes and others miss their home comforts and food too much. Try to imagine how you would feel if you didn’t have some of your favourite foods or drinks and they were replaced with foreign alternatives, if you strongly dislike the idea, although petty it could alter the way you feel if you were to live abroad. For some countries, their food and drink is part of their culture and therefore there is no escaping it, which causes a problem if you dislike their local dishes, but if you are up for trying their cuisine then you will probably find how much you enjoy it. Depending on where you move, there may be a supermarket that sells tonnes of imported goods, if not, look in local supermarkets and see what’s available, you will probably be surprised at how much of the local produce you may like.
Does your home country have many traditions or celebrations? Are they important to you? Do you know if the country you plan to move to has many traditions? If you come from a country where there are very few celebrations and traditions, it can be a big shock when you find that every other day is some kind of national holiday or there is a need for a celebration. Keeping up with local traditions and holidays is tiring to begin with, but you will learn to enjoy the community spirit when you have settled in to it all.
New way of life
Living abroad means a new way of life. Some things may surprise you and you may find them easier than expected, where as other things you may face can be difficult obstacles in your path. What ever time you move abroad and where ever you go to, if it is not your home country, then you are guaranteed to face changes in your way of life as you currently know it. You must decide whether these differences are positive or negative from your point of view, if you find that there are more negative changes then it’s time to reconsider your next step.
If you are planning on moving to a country with a better climate, remember that just because the sun is shining, it doesn’t mean that day to day problems will not occur. Wherever you live, you will have good days and bad days, so think how will you cope on a bad day? One of the most common misconceptions about life abroad, is the affect that the weather has on your life, problems don’t disappear just because the weather is nice. In fact, that is another point to consider – climate change. If you relocate to a country where the climate is drastically different to what you have been used to, imagine how it can change your life. You may have to consider how difficult it can be to keep warm in minus temperatures or trying to keep cool in a heat wave.
For anyone that has moved to a foreign country and has been successful, I am sure that they will tell you just how enjoyable life can be. Many people consider moving abroad because they have the holiday blues or are sick of the rat race in their home country, or you might just want a life change and try something new. Whatever the reason is for you wanting to move abroad, decide how rational it is and remember that you must have everything sorted and have a back up plan in case things fail.