An expatriate is essentially an individual who lives temporarily or permanently in a country other than their country of citizenship. If you move abroad because of a work opportunity and continue to live there, you’re an expatriate. A person is considered an expatriate even if they live abroad for an extended period of a few months in another country, it doesn’t always have to be permanent.
While travel enthusiasts would enjoy the experience of moving abroad and living their lives immersed in a whole new culture, the experience can get a little overwhelming. Leaving home and adapting to a new place has its own set of challenges. You have to retrain yourself right from scratch. Your food, clothes and etiquette might all have to undergo a change depending on where you are.
If you are choosing to move abroad, here are a few essential things to keep in mind as an expatriate.
Learn the local language
The most basic thing you need to learn in a new place is the language. If you’re well versed in the local language a whole lot of tasks will become easier. You can easily converse with locals, get around with ease and ask people for help whenever required. While it may take some time to get fluent, you can always start with small sentences and phrases to make your experience in a new place much more convenient.
Stay open-minded and be adaptable
When you reach a new place you’ll have to quickly adjust to a lot of things. During this process, it is very important to remain open-minded and make a genuine attempt to understand the culture you are a part of. Your sense of routine might completely change and you have to be okay with that. Adjusting to social and cultural etiquette is of prime importance. It will help you get comfortable with the locals and steer clear of any awkward situations. The culture shock you might initially be greeted with will slowly fade away.
What’s great about moving to a new place is that it opens many doors for personal growth. You will be introduced to new ways of life and new thought processes, which will greatly enhance your experience of staying abroad.
Do your research
Research is key when you’re choosing to become an expatriate. Understand the customs and laws of the country you’re moving to. Specific things like vaccinations and available medication might vary from country to country; ensure you are aware of all the basics. Other essentials like finding a place to live in, setting up a bank account, getting a phone connection will all get easier with prior research. The internet has a world of information to offer, you can find the best deals online.
Interact with locals
There’s no better way to get to know a country than through the eyes of a local. Get out of your comfort zone, go out and meet the locals. Spend time with them to understand the nuances of a place you’re in. No amount of research is as valuable as actually going out and interacting with people who are in tune with the pulse of the place you’re in. Attend events, especially those around public holidays. It’s a great way to meet locals and build a social circle.
Mingle with other expatriates
Battling homesickness? There’s no better feeling than talking to someone who is going through something similar. This is why it is very important to mingle with other expatriates who are experiencing things for the first time, just like you. It creates a great sense of community and helps you air your grievances and problems with people who are also dealing with the same situations. Developing a support network will help you deal with the psychological stress that you may experience.
Do you have any more tips to help expatriates? If so, do share them in the comments below.