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If you are preparing to move to a new country permanently or for a long-term, temporary assignment, it’s important to consider how you are going to settle in. There’s a big difference between visiting a foreign country and permanently living there and many expats struggle to settle into their new surroundings, resulting in a rough transition. To make your move successful, it’s important to prepare in advance. Expect the unexpected and approach the move with an open mind so that it will be easier for you to adjust to the lifestyle, environment and cultural differences ensuing a happy and comfortable transition.

Here are a few tips for settling-in:

Housing

Finding comfortable housing will be an important part of making sure you have a positive experience living abroad. Research accommodations in areas suitable to your lifestyle, budget and other personal requirements. A great resource for learning first-hand knowledge about living abroad are expats who have also lived in the country you’re moving to. Also, the web is filled with useful resources such as blogs, knowledge-sharing communities’ sites and open group chats that share this information freely. If you have temporary housing in your host country, and it’s an acceptable custom, try to get to know and speak with local residents who may share information that can help you make an informed decision.

Transportation

Keep in mind that methods of transportation may vary in your destination country. Different parts of the world use various forms of transportation ranging from three-wheeled motor cars to high-speed trains. If you’re accustom to driving your own vehicle, try to be open minded if you find yourself  standing close to other commuters during rush hour on a crowded subway. Maybe you’re used to getting around in a closed cabin vehicle, but the destination country’s main transport are three-wheeled motor vehicles, with no roof and brightly colored trinkets, which can take some getting used to. An important modern day luxury westerners enjoy to move around is GPS navigation. All you do is input your destination into the device and off you go with precise, turn-by-turn directions to your destination. This might not be a technology readily available in certain countries so plan accordingly. Make sure to pick up driving maps and familiarize yourself in that scenario to avoid getting lost! Transportation can be an interesting experience in different regions and may catch you off-guard if unprepared. Becoming familiar with ways to move around will help avoid frustrations along the way.

Language

If the official language differs in your new destination, make sure to spend time learning the basic language prior to the move.  The more you practice and familiarize yourself with the language, the easier your transition will be. For people who don’t have much time to learn a new language, portable translating devices can help. The portable device allows you to speak into the machine using your native language and will then provide an audio translation in the language you choose. Another difference to keep in mind is if the destination country shares the same language as you, they may use certain words that convey different meanings than what you’re familiar with. For instance, the word chaps is used in the US to describe ‘pants’ or ‘trousers,’ while in the UK its known to describe ‘guys’ or ‘gals’.

Food

Food can be a great way of breaking social barriers. Learn about the traditional cuisine, try some of the local dishes and go out to restaurants and practice the local customs. Once you have some experience and feel comfortable, you may enjoy hosting your own dinner party or find a local cooking class. Also, be careful and make sure you know what you’re eating. Make sure that food is fresh and cooked properly. You might find yourself sick with food poisoning when sampling local cuisines that you’re just not used to. Use your best judgement and avoid foods that you aren’t sure about.  

Stay organized

As soon as you move, organize your basic utilities, banking, driver’s license, transportation passes and local registrations. Try to unpack as soon as you can. After moving it’s normal to feel like you’re caught in a whirlwind and possibly overwhelmed with culture shock, but the quicker you get settled in, the easier the transition will be. Explore your surroundings and keep an open-mind, it’s an adventure so make the best of it.

Visit here for more information on moving abroad.

 
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