As an expat, your first few weeks in a new country can be a time of excitement and anticipation. Moreover, moving to a new country is an exciting experience, but can also be daunting. You're leaving behind your family, friends and familiarity, and entering into a new culture with different customs, traditions and languages.
The first few days can be hard, but with the right mindset and the right gear, you'll soon find yourself settling into life abroad. Here are some essentials for making your transition as smooth as possible:
1. Learn the local language as soon as possible. You may be able to get by with English for a while, but sooner or later you'll want to be able to communicate more easily with your neighbours and colleagues (and maybe even make new friends). Learning even just a little of the language will make it much easier for you to get around and meet people.
2. Find out about local customs and traditions before you go. If you're moving from another Western country, this shouldn't be too hard, since many countries have similar customs (like Christmas celebrations). But there may still be some differences that could surprise you - for instance, if you're moving from England to Spain, it's likely that Spanish people won't expect you to kiss them when greeting them (something that might come naturally if you're used to greeting friends with kisses).
3. Make friends with other expats. The best way to do this is by joining expat groups in your area, like an international school or community centre. These groups have monthly social events where people can meet and talk about their experiences as expats. It's also a good way to network with other people who are going through similar situations as yourself.
4. Health insurance. Moving abroad means leaving behind the health care system you're familiar with and entering an unfamiliar one — so it's important to get some kind of insurance before you go. If you're moving with family members who are covered by employer-provided insurance plans, ask them about continuing their coverage while abroad; otherwise, check out this list of affordable health insurance policies available around the world (don't forget to add in any costs related to emergencies).
5. Take along some favourite things from home. If there is something that makes you feel at home and helps you relax, then bring it along with you. This could be something like a photo of your family or an item of clothing that reminds you of a special occasion. It could even be a picture frame with some photos in it or some other sentimental item which helps remind you of where you came from and what is important to you.
6. Explore your new neighbourhood. When you first arrive in your new home country, it's easy to get wrapped up in unpacking and getting settled. However, if you want to really feel at home, you should explore your new area and environment! This will help you find places where you can meet people and make friends — which will make life much easier for you as an expat.
7. Check out local shops and restaurants. If there's one thing expats love doing when they move abroad, it's finding places that sell their favourite foods or offer similar services as those back home — whether it be an international grocery store or barber shop. Once you have found your favourite spots, those can be the place where you can start building your new network of friends and support system.
8. Find out about the local laws. Before moving abroad, find out what laws and regulations are in place that might affect your way of living. For example, if you're moving to a country where alcohol is banned, will you be able to import your own? Or if you have children, will they be allowed to attend school?
9. Make sure you have everything in place for your arrival. This includes having all the paperwork ready for your visa application or residence permit, making sure that your accommodation is booked and paid for and that you know when and where to meet your moving company. If possible, try to arrive at least two weeks before your start date so that you can get settled in before having to start work.
10. Be friendly and outgoing. If you're an introvert who likes time alone and being quiet most of the time, try not to let your personality get in the way of making friends with others in your new country. Be open and friendly towards people at all times, even if they don't seem interested at first. People will often warm up if they see that you're trying hard and enjoying yourself!
The decision to move abroad is a big one, and for many people it's a life-changing decision. It's not an easy decision, but it can be one that makes you happier.
There are so many things to take into consideration when moving abroad, but the main thing that people should focus on is making friends.
In fact, making friends is one of the easiest things about living abroad because you will always find someone who has something in common with you: such as studying at the same university or working in the same field. There are also lots of websites such as Couchsurfing or Meetup that help people make friends with locals, which makes it easier for people to integrate into society.
The only thing that can be difficult is fitting in socially with other expats because they all have different experiences and backgrounds which means they may not understand each other very well. However, this problem can easily be solved by joining an expat community where everyone shares their experience together and helps each other out when needed!