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Moving Abroad: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on International Living

What are the things that you might not exactly need to know, but would be incredibly helpful to know when making the decision to move abroad? For example, how can you best fit in among the locals? How will you adjust to a different international lifestyle? Moving overseas to a new country is, of course, a big decision, and sometimes we may overlook the little things. Here are some points to clue you in!

Be Patient

The first and most important point is to take your time adjusting. You’re not going to feel comfortable immediately, and you might even feel a little homesick in the beginning. It’s only natural! Just remind yourself that you’re in an adjustment period, and take some time to observe.

What are the local customs in the country you’ve moved abroad to? What is accepted in this new country that’s maybe a little taboo back home? How do people generally greet one another? Is it more common to say hello when walking by or to keep to yourself? This adjustment period of living internationally is the best time to spend making these types of observations.


Make Yourself at Home

This whole transition is only complete when you feel at home in your new international lifestyle. The best way to do this is to give your new place a personal touch. If you’re renting, then you can put up pictures of your family and decorate with your favorite colors and patterns. If you’ve purchased your home, get to painting! Think about it: Can you truly relax if home doesn’t feel like home?


Explore the Area

Go shopping! Go wandering! Learn your way around and figure out where to find the important stuff. Take note of which restaurants you’d like to try and where they are located. Where will you shop for groceries or get a haircut? Take this opportunity during your move abroad to incorporate the first two points above into this task. Buy things you need for your house while you’re out, and observe what you can about your new community.


Get to Know the Locals

Learn the native language. It will help you to mesh with the local community much easier and will broaden your options as far as meeting new people and making new friends. Plus, you’re showing respect for the culture by making the attempt. Locals will appreciate this.

You don’t have to keep your circle narrow by only befriending others within the expat community. It will deepen your experience and involvement within the culture to branch out and get to know some of those who were born and raised in your new country as well.


Be Aware of the Different Health Risks

Sure, we always talk about the importance of making sure good healthcare is accessible, but another valid point is that there are likely illnesses that are more common in your new country as opposed to your old one. A change of climate and different hygienic standards could contribute to local diseases that you may not have had to consider in the past. In the United States, for example, we don’t have to think too much about diseases that mosquitoes may be carrying. In more tropical climates south of the border, this is something of which to be wary. Of course, you’ll have to get your vaccinations as needed, but this is always something to keep in mind. Do your research and stay aware when making your observations, so that you aren’t caught off-guard.


Keep Up with the News

This may seem like a weird piece of advice, but it will actually help you get tuned in on what’s happening in your community. This can be in the form of the local news, or it can be via blogs and forums in the area. There’s no end to what you can find online, and learning about what is going on around you is a good first step to getting acquainted with a new environment.

With all of the changes you’ll be experiencing when moving abroad, there’s never too much advice or too many wise words from those who’ve made the transition themselves. Your fellow expats will also be more than helpful with providing insights to help with your experience. Just remember that it will all take time, and it’s okay to focus on the little things like these along the way!


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