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From homesickness to breaking language barriers and adjusting to new cultural norms, living as an expat does not always start smoothly. To make it worse, moving back home or traveling to visit may not be feasible for most at the moment due to the pandemic.
If you plan to move to a new country as an expat or are already living as one, here are tips on how to feel more at home.
5 Common Challenges Faced by Expats
When moving abroad, you leave all your social connections and family ties back home. This usually takes a significant toll on expats than they imagine. One of the most common things you will have a problem with in the beginning is fitting in. It takes a while for the new country to feel like home and give you a sense of belonging. Fortunately, this is a completely common feeling that fades with time.
Moving to a country that speaks a different language unprepared is also a common challenge expats face. When you cannot speak the language, the first few weeks can seem intolerable, especially if the native language is more dominant than other universal languages like English. This often occurs when you do not do enough research on the country, therefore, missing the chance to learn the language.
Money and financial management
When you first move to a new place, getting a grasp of how the financial system works can be daunting. Most expats have a hard time with money management as they try to organize their life and work in the new country. From filing taxes to setting up a local bank account and even understanding the currency exchange system, it often helps to know a few financial advisors to have an easy time transitioning to the new system.
Having access to reliable healthcare is one of the most challenging parts of living abroad. Sometimes, the healthcare standards in the new place may not be up to the standards you are used to back home, which can leave you confused and out of options. Most expats do not know the steps to take to get private health coverage in a new country, which leaves them exposed.
Loneliness and homesickness
One thing most people underestimate when moving away is how lonely it can get in a foreign country. This has significantly affected people who moved right before the pandemic. The social distancing guidelines and curfews have made it more challenging to make new friends and build a life in a new country. When you are lonely, you start to miss home, and sometimes this has taken a toll on some expats’ mental health.
Ways to Adapt to Life as an Expat
Learn the language
Without speaking the local language, something as simple as ordering in a restaurant or getting a taxi service can be difficult. Once you are sure that you will be moving abroad, you need to find out what languages are spoken in the country. If the native language is predominantly used, take time to learn the basics of the language, or learn the whole language if you can. This will make your life much easier.
Understand their cultures and customs
Sometimes, something as simple as dressing in a certain way is enough to spark outrage in some countries. Take time to learn a few things about the customs and culture of the country you plan to settle in. Part of living comfortably as an expat included adapting to the new normal. Learning the culture and customs of a country ensures you have an easier time fitting in without offending the locals.
Subscribe to channels from your home country
If part of your former life involves binging on local channels or enjoying sports networks at home on a lazy Sunday afternoon, one way you can beat loneliness and homesickness is by subscribing to the channels from abroad. If you live in a geo-restricted country, you can download a VPN to access content from home.
Keep in touch with your loved ones back home
Loneliness and homesickness can be tedious and stressful. To ensure you do not wear down your mental health, consider keeping in touch with people back home as constantly as possible. This can help to beat loneliness and homesickness, especially during this covid era when traveling back home is mostly out of the question.
Create new routines and traditions
Sometimes, the only way to adjust to life abroad is to create a new life for yourself. Adapting to the way of life of the locals and making new friends is the easiest way to settle in a new country. Here are numerous online social networks for expats you can use to meet other expats. Being in the company of people who understand your struggle is often enough to make the new country feel like home.
Living as an expat does not have to be challenging. With the tips in this guide, you are sure to have an easier time adapting to your new life.