How to adapt as an expat
When for whatever reasons we decide to leave our home country behind to get ourselves in a new professional and personal adventure, there are many things that we should keep in mind so we succeed in our project.
It is easy to idealize the experience of those who leave before when we see the opportunities they get, the places they visit, and the experiences they live. It is easy to wish we were in their position, and believe that we could do it too. In fact we can, but it takes a lot of strength and a large dose of reality.
When we move to a new country we have to accept that we are leaving our culture and our environment behind; which also means that we have to start over and create a new life, a new support system, and a new “normal” that meets in a balanced way with the culture of the country we are moving to. Even when we believe that our new country is very similar to the place we come from, we must know that there are always differences that will become much more evident after we move there. Those differences are the ones we need to be ready for.
Therefore, it is very important to keep in mind to avoid idealizing before we leave, and understanding that there always will be things that we will miss from every place we leave behind, and that no city in the world is ideal. That’s why is important to embrace this experience with open arms and realism. If we don’t romanticize with the idea of moving to a new country, we will avoid unnecessary disappointments, and we will also give ourselves the time and the space to adapt to our new home.
A big mistake many expats make is to just share the experience with fellow expats. As we just said, what will define your experience will be how open to the culture of the country that you are choosing. Getting to know it and meet the locals, because otherwise we might just live in a bubble that would not only hold us back from fully living our experience, but would also bring a lot of melancholy and home sickness; as expats usually tend to compare their current location to their original homes when they get together.
In that same line, don’t count the days to go back home. Don’t make plans, leave that calendar behind and live the life that you have right now! Don’t let that stop you or put a condition on how you are choosing to enjoy your experience everyday, be open to how plans can change.
Another reason why is important to blend in, is the language. Unless you move to a country where they speak your mother tongue, you will probably need to speak another language. You either have to learn from scratch or you already can speak it and just can improve it. This is a great opportunity and probably one of the biggest things you will get out of the experience of being an expat. A new language (or the level you get as a local) is a great asset for your future.
Obviously the work experience is also a great point that will go on your resume and will make it stand out in the future. Being an expat, working abroad, and learning a new language, shows that we are strong people, adaptable and open to new environments.
So if you are planning to move abroad, or if you already took that step and you are living the experience, consider these tips and move from being an expat to being a compatriot. Become a local and bring the best from your home country and your previous experiences to meet the best of what your new culture has to offer. As they say, take the best of both worlds and become a citizen of the world.