Moving overseas is an exciting prospect, but it can also be a bit intimidating. It’s never easy to leave your friends and family behind, and there is always an initial learning curve to starting over in a new place (particularly if you don’t quite understand the local language or culture). While there’s no way to eliminate some of the stress that accompanies a transition overseas, these 3 key principles will help make your transition as smooth as possible.
Find A Community
This may be particularly challenging during a global pandemic, but finding a community of like-minded people who share similar interests with you will make your transition a lot smoother. There’s nothing worse than moving to an exciting new place and wanting to try new things, but realizing that you have no one to do all of these exciting, new things with. Whether you’re into working out or eating out, you should make a concrete effort to meet people. You’re not likely to find a new best friend in one day, but simply having people you can go out with or rely on will make your transition overseas that much smoother. We suggest that when traveling to a country where you have no contacts you would do well to join an expat facebook group before even getting on your flight.
Keep In Touch With Friends And Family Without Over-relying On Them
This first part of this seems obvious. Of course you will likely be keeping in touch with your friends and family while abroad. Most people have WhatsApp and Facebook groups that they’ve been in since before they left home. When you move overseas there are going to be doing new things and meeting new people, and sometimes you may feel like you’ve lost that connection you had with some of your old friends. While it may be tempting to focus on retreating into your comfort-zone, it’s important to know the fine line between maintaining your close relationships and delaying the full acceptance of the fact that you have moved away. The sooner you try to acclimate to your surroundings the better off you’ll be.
Venture Outside The Expat Bubble
When you’re forming you new community abroad, you may find yourself naturally gravitating towards other expats who are living in the area. Like we mentioned above, it makes sense to connect with local expats when you arrive, but for the same reason you shouldn’t over-rely on friends and family, you shouldn’t find yourself within an expat bubble. They speak the same language as you or maybe they grew up in a similar culture – whatever the reason is, interacting with them is probably a lot easier than trying to connect with a local in a foreign language. Nevertheless, if you want to be more than just a tourist, you’ll need to step outside of your comfort zone. To be clear, there are definitely occasions where you may want to only hang out with expats, or have an expat-only party or happy hour, but exclusively having expat friends can often be a barrier for real immersion. You did not leave your country to exclusively spend time with people who are exactly like people back home. Making local friends and acquaintances is extremely important. Doing so will unlock your full potential within the country. In some countries it can be impossible for foreigners to ever be fully recognized as locals even if they’ve lived in the country for 20 years and have been naturalized, but it is remarkably easy to be recognized as a legitimate member of the community if you develop local connections that separate you from the typical aloof expats that many people are familiar with in expat hub cities.