Thursday, 23 May 2013

Moving abroad: considerations for expats, or not?

This week, A Place in the Sun published an article offering five steps for successful moving abroad.  Those tips included, making the decision to go (obviously); doing your research – citing insurance, learning about new currency, seasons, what clothes to wear, type of food, transport and of course, language barriers as the key areas.  The move itself was mentioned as a tip (saying your goodbyes, getting over the culture shock etc.) Then, upgrading your lifestyle once settled into a routine and finally, direction – whether or not you stay in that country or decide to move to another one.

Clearly moving overseas is a big decision, not one to be taken lightly and therefore trying to fit even a fraction of the considerations into one article is no easy task.  But we have to question some of the observations behind this list of tips, with the last two surely being irrelevant in the scheme of things.  If you’re thinking of moving abroad, it’s all about what is happening right now, it’s the immediate things you need to deal with – rather than over planning the future (which you can face later).

Aside from making the actual decision (which is surely a given otherwise the article is pretty much redundant from the start), we would agree that doing your research beforehand is probably the biggest and most sensible tip of all.  It’s an absolute must, if you’re considering taking the plunge, uprooting the family and travelling to a new country.  There are many references to the prospect of ‘culture shock’ that many people will need to overcome.  Indeed it remains the biggest reason that people end up coming back home having decided that they miss their ‘home country’ too much. 

How can you help yourself? Try making friends with locals as well as people from your own country.  There is a tendency to veer towards others who are English too, but it won’t help you to experience new cultures and traditions.  To feel properly at home, you need to start integrating yourself into the local community by being open to new conversations and possibly facing up to your language demons.  Many locals you meet won’t speak a word of English, so communicating will be a challenge in itself – but embracing this rather than avoiding it could help you on your journey to fluency or at least prepare you for how you might attempt to communicate in the future.  Either way, you’ll soon know if it’s the right location for you or not.

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