International living is an amazing experience. This is especially the case if you have planned your move well, sorted out all the details, arranged the paperwork and taken care of the financial side of things. Nevertheless, it understandably takes most expats some time until they have gotten used to their new environment.
The first few weeks and months are usually a little bit crazy. So many things have to be settled when you are starting an international life from scratch. Overwhelmed by jetlag and culture shock, many expats don’t know where to start when it comes to living in a foreign country and settling in. Dealing with public authorities, finding a place to live, a job, a school for your children… international living is a lot of work.
But you have not actually experienced international living until you have settled in completely. Don’t worry if this is all a bit overwhelming and – let’s face it – somewhat scary at first. We have some great tips about how to settle into your new life successfully.
Living in an international environment is always a challenge, even for those who have done it before. You have to deal with the language barrier and an entirely different pace of life. It may mean that you will have to adapt to a hectic business life that does not give you the time to take a breather or deal with people to whom punctuality is optional at best and unknown at worst.
Living outside of your country of origin will turn simple tasks and errands into a scavenger hunt that may cost you quite some energy. You have to find a way to organize your new way of international living. As so often, being informed can make life much easier. Try asking fellow expats who have already been living in your host country for a while about their experiences in regard to local business etiquette, punctuality et cetera. This will at least give you a first idea of what you can expect when living and working in a foreign country. The rest will come with time, and soon you will start to settle in.
Especially if you originate from an English-speaking country, you may be tempted to only speak your native tongue once you have moved to your new home. It might seem easy as many locals may understand this lingua franca. Especially in many international, urban centers around the world, people will be able to communicate with you in English. However, if you cling to your native language it will prevent you from ever really learning the language of your new home country.
Learning the local language, whether by taking lessons or on your own, and actually using it will take you one step closer to really settling in and feeling at home abroad. Chatting with neighbors or the mailman and negotiating grocery prices at the store will not only help improve your language skills. It will also help you adjust to the new situation and overcome cultural differences – a huge step ahead in international living.