|(Guest post by Dana Newman)
I have been wanting to have a guest blogger write for me for a while now, and I am happy to say that today I am publishing my first guest post written by the lovely Dana Newman! She is a writer and expat vlogger at Wanted an Adventure. In this post, she shares the 11 dos and don’ts for making it as an expat. Thank you Dana for sharing your expat advice!
1. Do join a local expat group or club. Moving abroad can be really overwhelming and hanging out with people who are going through the same challenges as you can help ease the process. Also, you’ll probably meet long-time expats who have been where you are and can answer your questions and offer guidance.
2. Don’t hang out exclusively with expats. In many places it can certainly be trickier to meet the locals, especially if you don’t speak the language of the country you moved to, but it’s still important to try. You want to be an expat not a visitor, after all; this means being a part of the city you moved to, not watching from the sidelines.
3. When calling your friends and family back home, don’t make the conversation all about you. You’ve left your country of birth to find a new home and dropped your old life in search of a new one. Not only can this be hard for your friends and family to understand, but within weeks of living abroad you’re going to change. Perhaps drastically. And while you’re out experiencing all kinds of new adventures and conquering challenges you didn’t even know existed before, they’re still back where you left them. This can all be hard on a relationship! And while it’s okay to be excited about your new life, and it’s normal to want to share it with them, there’s a fine line between sharing and bragging. In the end, besides not wanting to make them feel badly, this is important because alienating your friends and family back home will only make your transition tougher and feel more lonely.
4. If you don’t already speak the language of the country, do learn it! Not only will this help your relationship with the locals, but it’ll go a long way to making you feel at home in your new home. Plus, language classes are a great place to meet friends!
5. Do bring a few favorite foods from back home. Having that jar or two of your favorite peanut butter on hand can really ease the pain on those “nothing is going right, what am I doing here” days. (And yes, you will have those.) But…
6. …don’t try to bring the whole store with you! You’re living in a foreign country; there are going to be products “missing,” but there are going to be new things to discover as well. You can’t bring it all. If you absolutely, positively cannot live without the the entire contents of Target aisle 6, perhaps you should consider just going on trips rather than moving abroad.
7. Don’t expect your problems to just *poof* away. In fact, they may get worse. Unless you’re moving to a place where you already know other people, there’s a good chance that at the beginning you’ll be spending a lot of time alone, which could be something like cabin fever-light, and depending on your problems, this may only exacerbate them. Yes, you do get somewhat of a clean slate when you move abroad, but you’re still you, and while you can leave everyone else behind, no matter how hard you try, you can’t leave you behind.
8. Do be honest with yourself, especially about why you moved abroad and what you expect to get from the experience.
9. Do plan financially on not having a job for a while, and then…
10. …don’t delay in starting that job search! Having a job not only gives you financial stability, but in the case of moving abroad it gives you the opportunity to be a part of the community and put down roots. Perhaps at the beginning there’s nothing more you want to do than sightsee and sip coffee at cafes, but after a while it’ll help to have a more concrete reason to put on pants in the morning.
11. Do accept the culture and customs of the locals without judgement. This doesn’t mean you have to like all the local customs, nor does it mean you have to embrace them (it also doesn’t mean you can’t complain about them from time to time!). But you do have to respect them.
|(Dana enjoying the beautiful view in Czech Republic)
Dana Newman is an expat YouTube vlogger and writer whose debut novel, entitled Found in Prague, is based loosely on her experiences living in the Czech Republic when she first moved to Europe in search of her roots. For the inside scoop on expat life (such as the truth about beer gardens and why the German sauna culture is like mayonnaise) as well as travel videos from around the world, check out and subscribe to her Wanted an Adventure YouTube channel. She can also be found on Twitter @WantedAdventure, sharing her international thoughts and musings in the most concise form the Internet has to offer.