Life as an expat offers challenges not faced by those living in their home countries. Of course these challenges vary depending where you are from and where you move and many things can have an impact on how successfully you adapt to expat life. These are my tips for expat success.
Getting out and exploring your new territory should definitely be a priority. What do the locals have that you don’t? Local knowledge. It is invaluable when trying to fit in somewhere new and granted, it does not come overnight, but at least if you know the names of local places and make your own observations you at least look keen to be a part of the place.
Friendships are really important because it is the people that make the place. But don’t make the mistake that many expats make and befriend only other expats. Expat friends are wonderful when you need comfort and reassurance, but although it is tempting to be a bit lazy if the local language is not your own, it really is worth getting to know some local people. Other expats can tell you that things are a certain way but locals can tell you why. When you understand things you are more likely to accept them and I also love to have that extra background knowledge. Local friends can help you enjoy all of the best things about your host country. They can also help you dodge the bits that are worth avoiding.
|My Turkish friend Sebnem helped me enormously|
Learn the language
The benefits from getting to grips with the local language in your host country are endless including, amongst other things, an increased ability to be polite and buy what you actually want at the market. Languages help you interact with others and when communication is so vital to all tasks it is incomprehensible to me that expats might not try to learn the language of their host country. Improved communications increase your ability to absorb and understand alternative cultures too, which helps you appreciate and accept cultural differences.
|Languages help expats communicate|
No two places are the same and if you leave one place and try to transfer your old lifestyle with you to a new place you are likely to face disappointment. Perhaps you miss certain groceries from home, TV shows or your old social life. Whatever it is, there will be a new one waiting for you to discover in your host country. If you dwell on the feeling of missing something it can make you very unhappy.
What are your tips for expat success?