Many people living abroad are serial expats. Having hopped from country to country for years, these individuals have likely scraped together their survival guides to refer to upon landing in a new destination. For those who are moving abroad for the first time, however, no matter how much preparation should be made or how well-traveled the individual is, becoming an expat can come as a shock to the system as there is nothing quite like it.
I have put together three tips to keep in mind in the early days after your arrival, helping to foster a smooth initiation into your new environment and becoming an expat.
Becoming an expat means connecting with others
No matter where you are, there are always going to be other expats. Though the expat scene in somewhere like Paderborn or Pyongyang will be smaller than in a more well-known city, it is likely to be that much more intimate because of this.
Connecting with these other expats is an invaluable way to gain advice and support from the start to becoming an expat.
Thanks to social media and internet forums, new arrivals in town don’t have to seek out the nearest pub to meet people in a new city. In addition to sites such as Culture Trip, there are Facebook pages and chat rooms for expats in any given city or region.
Join them all! Meet the crowd, ask any questions, and you can always leave the group when the notifications become tedious.
Additionally, the blogosphere is awash with witty wordsmiths scribbling away in their new environment. Have a read, and harvest all the insider pearls of wisdom that you can.
Are the blogs all trash? Set up your own. Create your blog, becoming an expat gives you the opportunity to jot down your experiences and encourage you to seek out the hottest sites in town for the benefit of your followers.
Dive right in
Though the gut reaction upon arriving in a new and strange place can be to tuck yourself away and submerge into a Netflix binge, this is only forestalling the inevitable – eventually, you will have to confront the big bad city.
The more you hold off from fully engaging with the new culture, the harder it will be to integrate yourself when you finally build up the courage, and the weaker your overall experience will be in the long run.
Find your way in and enter through there. If you are a bookworm, seek out some of the best literature on the place. Fanatic foodie? Try your hand at preparing the local cuisine. Yogi? Join a class. There is always a way in; no place is entirely alien.
But Keep Your Head Above the Surface
Seasoned expats often forget the disorientation that comes with moving to a new country, but almost every expat experiences this to some extent. And this is fine because becoming an expat and moving to a new place is a big deal.
So at the same time as fully incorporating yourself into the new environment, don’t beat yourself up when you feel the need to indulge in some familiar creature comforts.
Many expats initially seek out fellow expats from the same country after emigrating, as a natural response to drawn-out anxiety is to seek solace in similarities.
Of course, you want to be sure to keep yourself open, if now and then you feel the spontaneous urge, head to the local cafe and indulge in a local pastry and strike up a conversation with someone from the area!
Occasionally take a break from being an intrepid culture vulture and go and watch the latest blockbuster. Need a drink? Well, head to the local bar, there is bound to be one just around the corner.
Also, don’t don’t forget to share your thoughts on becoming an expat, any tricks you might have that worked for you? Leave a comment below. I would love to hear them.