Top Tips for Living and Loving the Expat Lifestyle
But for today’s post we’ve decided to go back to basics and offer a few little pointers to help you get the most out of your time overseas.
Break free from the habit of saying ‘no’
There’s nothing wrong with being cautious, and sometimes it pays to turn down an offer, but when you’re living overseas try to embrace opportunities and say ‘yes’ as often as you can. By agreeing to go to a range of social engagements and taking on new challenges at work, further chances will come your way and you’ll find it easier to expand your circle of friends and connections.
Never be afraid to ask for help
If you come up against any difficulties, such as being unable read local signs, being unsure of the ingredients in food products or getting confused over a certain language rule, don’t panic alone. The majority of locals will be happy to help you (particularly if you try and voice your query in their language) and can often provide a specialist insight. Furthermore, taking independent, reputable advice when it comes to making financial or legal decisions can save you time, money and stress.
Keep a clock tuned in to your native time
When you’re living far away from friends and family the smallest thing can be a source of comfort during lonely moments. By having a clock set to your ‘native’ time you’ll always be able to picture what your loved ones are up to. You’ll also find it simpler to pick the best time to call, Skype or email for a catch up.
Eat like a local
One of the best things about moving to a new culture is getting to enjoy a different cuisine and an alternative approach/attitude to food. But if you’re trying to find the best cafes, restaurants and food markets in your new home don’t go to places that look swanky or seem to draw expat crowds. Anyone looking to enjoy the most authentic (and probably most reasonably priced) food their host nation has to offer should go to places which are popular with locals. Don’t be put off by tatty venues or sloppy presentation, if the food wasn’t good or priced fairly the locals wouldn’t buy it!
Take an interest in local news
Read local papers (if you can translate them) or watch the local news with subtitles on if you’re struggling with learning the language. While knowing what’s going on ‘back home’ might be important to you, taking an interest in local issues, concerns and events will help you feel like you belong and increase your common ground with locals.
When you move to a new nation it’s important to remember that while settling in and making yourself at home is a priority, you’re still a guest. No matter how different the customs or culture, always be respectful and appreciate the values and traditions upheld by locals. Accepting the way things are done, rather than resisting them, will also go a long way to helping you get over culture shock.
Contribute to your community
Your expat life may be busy and overflowing with work and family commitments, but you really do get back what you put in, so set aside time to contribute to your community in some way. Whether that means throwing a barbeque for your neighbours, fundraising for local charities or volunteering at an event, making the effort will improve your standing in the community, encourage friend-making and give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.
If you’ve got any tips for living and loving an expat life please get in touch on Facebook or Twitter, or share your advice in The Expat Hub forum!