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It’s the official International Day of Happiness on March 20, so we’ve put together the following tips to help you make the most of your expatriate experience. Whether you’re about to become or already are an expat, here are 10 essential habits that all genuinely happy expats possess. By Jo Latimer, Global Manager, Partner Support:

1. Create a daily/weekly routine as soon as possible. Especially for partners who may not be working yet or just finding their feet. A daily routine offers the comforting sense of familiarity in an unfamiliar location.

2. Talk. Share experiences with those you meet. It will make you feel more “normal” and you will learn from others, too. By sharing your experiences you’ll make new friends and settle in quicker.

Sarah Britton, Intercultural and Language Services Manager – Americas, says:

3. Learn the language (or at least a few phrases) of the country. This will not only give you cultural insights, but is a great way to connect with others, too.

4. Keep a travel journal/scrapbook of your ticket stubs, photos, restaurant menus, etc. This is a great way to remember your experience and celebrate what you have accomplished during your stay – especially if you plan to move back home. 

5. Do something (within reason) that you would never do at home. If you can’t dance, take Tango lessons in Argentina. If you can’t sing, rent a karaoke box in Japan. Remember that no one knows you when you first arrive and as the saying goes, when in Rome…

Shaila Gidwani, Intercultural and Language Services Manager – APAC, says:  

6. See the move as a journey of self-discovery. Happy expats check in with themselves and reflect on their experiences regularly. 

7. Travel "locally." It can be tempting to focus travels on going back home or exotic top locations. Don't forget to explore the city you are in and even your own neighborhood.

Alyssa Bantle, Global Curriculum Manager, Intercultural and Language Services, says: 

8. Allow a bad day or two. Cultural adjustment is a process. It’s ok to be down or feel overwhelmed. Just acknowledge the feeling and look for ways to take it a little easier for a few days. 

9. Stay connected back home. Find ways to balance between creating new relationships in your new city and maintaining those back home. This keeps you feeling connected and makes moving back home less bumpy. 

Jorge Gonzaga, Intercultural and Language Services Manager – EMEA, says:

10. Embrace your new home country with a willingness to learn and discover new things. You are an expat, not a visitor. Your host country is very much your new home country. In order to be happy you need to see it as such. Step out of your comfort zone – by giving into your curiosity you will be able to adapt to your new surroundings.



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