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Ten New Year’s Resolutions for Expats

With the beginning of a new year, thoughts of fresh starts, positive life choices, and self-improvement start running through our minds. As cliché as it sounds, a new year means new beginnings, and we often find ourselves compelled to resolve our bad habits and better ourselves.

Stay fit and healthy, spend less money, drink less alcohol — all valid, and particularly popular, New Year’s resolutions. Yet, while so many of us decide to make these resolutions in the run up to the new year, research has shown that around 80% of us fail to stick to ours by mid-February.

As an expat, life can be unpredictable, which makes resolutions difficult to keep. Below are ten feasible New Year’s resolutions for expats to help them get the most out of life abroad.

1. Learn the Local Language

Knowing the local language is a fundamental part of life abroad — without it, life can be a lonely struggle. But for many of us, it’s something we find difficult and often put off. If you’ve been an expat for a while, then you may well have tried sticking to this resolution before, but why not make it a reality this time! Download an app and make a habit of practicing a little each day, join an online language class, or perhaps find a tandem partner to practice speaking with. By making it a fun and regular part of your routine, you’ll be more likely to stick to it. Added bonus: speaking becomes easier with practice, which will eventually mean less time miming and feeling foolish, and more time engaging in real conversations!

2. Make Friends with the Locals

It’s very easy to become comfortable as an expat, living in an expat bubble and not fully experiencing your adoptive country for what it really is. The new year is your time to burst that bubble and get to know the locals. The only way to meet new people is to put yourself out there, and to be persistent. Take a walk around the neighborhood if possible and talk to your neighbors or join a local community event. You might just find that people are equally curious about you, and an unexpected friendship could well blossom.

3. See More of Your Host Country

As an expat you often try to avoid the tourist spots, opting to act more like a local than a visitor. The truth is though, you are technically a visitor, so try to embrace that a little more in the new year. Learn more about the history and culture of your community and make a plan to visit the landmarks, take a walking tour, and go to see the museums — by doing so, you will get to know your host country a whole lot better, and it might even help you to feel more at home. You don’t want to end up missing out on things, particularly as the fickle expat lifestyle means you could be moving elsewhere at a moment’s notice!

4. Make a Bucket List

If you know you’re staying in your current location for a while, then it can be a good idea to make a bucket list of everything you want to see. Whether it’s eating at that restaurant that everyone keeps raving about or going on a weekend trip to a nearby town, add it to the list. The next time you’re stuck for something to do or need something to look forward to, take out your list and pick something new to tick off!

5. Join a New Activity or Group

A move overseas is also a great opportunity to start a new hobby or activity, and what better time to do so than at the beginning of a new year. As one of the best ways to meet people — be they locals or other expats like yourself — joining a club or group can be a fulfilling chance to try out something new and take a break from your usual daily routine. If you haven’t done so already, why not resolve to join one of our InterNations Groups in your community and meet a bunch of like-minded expats in the new year.

6. Learn to Cook a Local Recipe

Experiencing the culture of your adoptive country doesn’t simply mean visiting the tourist sites — what about the cuisine? While eating out or ordering from traditional restaurants is a must-do, why not make the most of the easy access to fresh ingredients that you have never used before and try cooking some local dishes yourself. Whether that means buying a recipe book on traditional cuisine, learning from a friend, or, if you want to go all-out, enrolling in a cooking course, learning to prepare a local dish can be a fun and satisfying skill to have — and one to impress dinner guests with!

7. Get Better at Keeping in Touch

Although one of the hardest parts about living abroad is being away from your loved ones and the feeling of missing out on what is going on “at home”, it can be easy to get caught up in expat life and forget how long it has been since you last spoke to some of those nearest and dearest to you. If you haven’t already established a routine, the new year is a good excuse to schedule a set time to get in touch with your family or friends — this helps avoid the constant hassle of finding a time to suit the both of you.

8. Write Things Down

Expat life can be hectic and brimming with new experiences, which can make for some interesting stories. But as time passes, we often forget the little quirks of everyday life. Whether you carry a notebook to keep track of funny little anecdotes, keep a detailed journal, or decide to start a blog to tell the world about your experiences, putting pen to paper can be a fun and relaxing way to remember things for years to come. Start this in the new year and make it one to remember!

9. Do Some Volunteering

If you want to do something rewarding with your free time, why not volunteer for a good cause in the new year. Wherever you are in the world, there will be charities and organizations in need of support, so why not try and find a cause you are passionate about and give something back to your community.

10. Stop Comparing Life to Back Home

It can be easy to get into the habit of comparing your life abroad to back home. To a certain extent, we all compare things: prices, weather, customs, and traditions. But the new year is time to turn over a new leaf and quit the comparisons. Although it may be unintentional, constant comparisons can have negative undertones and may even make it harder to feel at home abroad. Accept the ways of your new destination and you might just find that you like them better than those back home!

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