Today we’re hosting a guest post written by Alex Johnson, Marketing Specialist at Currency UK.
Living overseas is a thrilling adventure, filled with excitement and opportunity. But even for the most experienced travellers, it can sometimes be challenging to settle in. It can be difficult, especially at first, to find comfort so far from home, which can be unnerving.
However, with a little preparation and a dash of determination, you can make your new country truly feel like your new home. Here, I’ve gathered together some helpful advice and tips to help you do just that.
1. Learn the language
If you’re moving to a country where the main language is not English, then learning the lingo will make a huge difference to how well you settle in – even if many of the locals speak English well. Speaking only English will make you seem like a tourist, and you’ll probably never really feel part of the community without at least learning the basics of the native language.
Start learning before you move so that you’ve got a head start, and take every opportunity to practise when you set up home in your new country. You may be surprised at how quickly you’ll be able to converse with the locals if you immerse yourself in your new language. Krystian Aparta from the TED blog offers some useful tips on learning a new language in this post.
2. Connect with fellow expats
Of course, learning a language takes time, and it’s during those first few weeks after moving to your new country when you might find it hard to settle in. It can help enormously to make connections with fellow expats, as they can both assist you with practicalities and offer a friendly face.
Try to make some connections before you move over if you can, by finding online forums for expats in your country of choice. You could then also look for expats clubs in your local area after you move.
3. Connect with locals
To truly feel settled, though, you’ll need to go further than the expat community. Make connections with local people by introducing yourself to your neighbours, socialising with co-workers and joining clubs. This will also help you to develop your language skills, and find out about all sorts of aspects of your new home country that you might not discover otherwise.
4. Phone home
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of moving abroad is leaving loved ones behind. Trips back home often have to be infrequent due to budget and time restrictions, and it can be overwhelming to think that it may be a long time before you see your friends and family again.
Thankfully, though, modern technology means that it is easy to keep in touch with the folks back home. It no longer has to cost a fortune to make an international call, since KeepCalling is around to offer all kinds of affordable ways to keep in touch with everyone you love.
Schedule plenty of telephone call dates with friends and family when you first arrive in your new country to help you feel comforted as you get used to your new surroundings.
5. Learn local laws and customs
Do some reading about traditions and laws before you head over and you’ll be able to fit in more easily and quickly.
Your new neighbours and co-workers will also be able to help you learn about these things, but if you do some homework yourself, you’re making it clear that you’re interested in learning about and respecting their culture. And if you make an effort, then most people will forgive the odd social faux pas!
6. Prepare as much as possible
The more that you can prepare before you leave, the less you’ll have to do once you arrive. It can be overwhelming to have to deal with a ton of formalities and paperwork such as bank accounts and national insurance numbers in a country that still feels foreign to you.
Getting these things arranged in advance when you can – or at least finding out exactly what information you’ll need to get them sorted – will mean that you can hit the ground running and focus more on enjoying the experience.
7. Try to find the best place to live straight away
I’m not necessarily talking about the most luxurious house in town here, but rather a place that will allow you to settle in easily, even if it is only temporary. If you have already secured a job, find accommodation that is within an appropriate distance to your place of work, for example.
It may also help you to settle in if you find a community that includes fellow expats. If you have connected with expats online already, they may be able to help you to decide on the best area to choose.
8. Set yourself goals
These will depend on your confidence levels and personality, but setting challenges for yourself can be a great way to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. I know that sounds like the very opposite of comfort, but the more you push yourself, the better you’ll be able to settle in – and the more comfort you’ll find in your new home in the long run.
A goal may be something as small as using the local language to ask for an item in a local shop, or as big as making a speech at an event. As you integrate into the local community, you will be able to adjust your goals accordingly.
9. Get tips online
The internet is a gold mine of information, and chances are that there’s a blog post out there somewhere which goes into detail on the very issue that you’re concerned about. I’ve gathered together 30 of my favourite articles and blog posts in this post over on our blog.
For most people, moving abroad is a very emotional process, and many expats have felt terribly homesick at one point or another. Recognising that this may be an issue for you and planning how you will deal with settling in can help enormously in ensuring that your move is successful.
Currency UK offers advantageous exchange rate and low transactions fees for money transfer to and from your home country. Whether you want great rates or advice, Currency UK can offer a service which stands out.