4 Tips for a Smooth Expat Transition
While experienced expats often rave about their time overseas, the transition can be nerve-wracking and challenging for many who are about to depart from their home country for the first time. Taking some time to plan ahead is essential to ensure that time spent abroad is fun, comfortable and as rewarding as possible. Here are four effective tips for a smooth transition:
1. Adapt to a new pace
There is a good chance the environment and culture in your new country is much different than your old one. According to InterNations magazine, one of the best ways to get settled into your new life is to adapt to the pace.
For example, if you come from the U.S., you are used to an up-tempo lifestyle and fast, busy days. In another country, that may all be different. You may encounter a completely different culture and expectations, and not being ready for that shift can be shocking. So, make sure you take the time to sit back, assess the situation and try to adapt so the transition won't be as challenging. Having the right attitude is necessary to adapt to living abroad.
According to the ISSUU 2013 Expat Survey, the most common attitudes/beliefs held by expats include:
- I like different people, cultures, ideas and lifestyle around me – 86% Agree
- I make a real effort to recycle waste – 77% Agree
- I like to keep up with technology – 71% Agree
- I like to keep fit – 70% Agree
- I have a keen sense of adventure – 59% Agree
2. Learn the local language
As an expat, you will often run into a wide range of languages while abroad. While it is more comfortable for you to speak your native language at the beginning, jumping in and trying to learn the local language is a better idea, InterNations magazine explained. Communicating with the locals like this can help you feel like you belong, beat cultural differences and adjust to the new lifestyle much faster.
3. Meet new people
Learning the language in your host country will be much easier if you know people who are willing to talk. According to travel guide website BootsnAll, meeting your neighbors is a fantastic way to simplify your transition into the expat lifestyle. Learning from the locals is a great way to find great shops, restaurants and leisure activities. By stepping out of your comfort zone and meeting new people you will have a much more rewarding experience.
4. Create a flexible routine
Establishing a routine can be another useful strategy to adapt to your new life as an expat. BootsnAll recommended creating habits, but also leaving room for a little bit of flexibility from time to time. For example, pick a great place to have breakfast every morning. Becoming a regular will help you feel welcomed and involved in the local community. According to a recent Expat Survey, the most popular leisure activities included:
- Reading books – 75% responded at least 1x per week
- Visiting a local coffee shop – 55% responded at least 1x per week
- Shopping at local stores – 43% responded at least 1x per week
- Visiting a local bar/pub – 35% responded at least 1x per week
When going abroad, do research ahead of time and embrace the culture. Find out other tips for living and working abroad.
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