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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Adjusting to life abroad



If you are already an expat you will know that moving abroad is big leap. It can be scary having to face a new country, culture and environment, especially if you are flying solo. Like any big change there are ways to make the transition period easier and in this post we explore some of the easiest and best ways to learn to love your new home.

Embrace it
Accepting that you are likely to experience a culture shock will make your move that bit easier. There’s no point in fighting against your new way of life… because it will win and leave you feeling frustrated and annoyed. Instead, embrace your host country and everything about it. Grab the opportunity to learn a new language, try new foods and adjust your daily activities to reflect your surroundings. For example, if you’ve moved to Spain why not take advantage of the relaxed afternoons and later evening meals?

Stick with it
Try to avoid falling at the first hurdle. There will be times when packing up and going home with your tail between your legs will seem much more appealing but remember…you are not alone! Use social networking sites to find other expats who are or have been in a similar position to yourself – they will be able to guide you through the adjustment and offer first hand advice. As well as the expat community, use the wider local community. If you speak the local language then talk to locals, they will help you find your way around and hopefully share their insider knowledge on great places to visit or hang out.

Explore it
There’s no better way to get to know a new place than getting out and experiencing it for yourself.  Don’t bother with a map – unless there are specific sites you’re keen to see. Getting lost is always good fun and helps you find your bearings….eventually. A well as your local area try and venture a bit further afield to surrounding cities or even countries.

Think about it
Planning for accomodation should be something that you do ahead of your move. Where you live can make a real difference, especially if you are far away from local transport or don’t have access to a vehicle. Think about being based somewhere where you can connect with locals or other expats. An area with a strong sense of local community will not only feel friendly but there’s likely to be activities for your to become involved in.

Ultimately, adjustment takes time but the rewards of sticking with it can be invaluable. Eventually your new expat destination will become your new home away from home…until the next time!
What helped you adjust to life abroad? Feel free to leave us a comment in the box below. Alternatively, help other expats by sharing your tips for a happy transition on our Hints & Tips site.