Moving to a foreign country – leaving family, friends and familiar things behind – is a scary thought. It’s a little less scary when you think of it as an adventure that some people can only dream of. A chance to learn a new language, meet new people and experience new things. While you pack away your belongings, take time to prepare yourself, for the big International move.
Familiarize Yourself with the Language & Customs:
Learn the native language so that you can communicate with the local community. In order to understand the locals – even read their newspapers, signs and menus – knowing their language is necessary. Build upon the four language skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking) by purchasing a language learning guide. (Yes, there’s an app for that!) Then start conversing with native speakers. Join an online network or attend a casual meet-up. Learn their standard greetings. Know how to use hand gestures and which ones to avoid. Body language is also an important factor in conversation. When is it inappropriate to make eye contact or extend a hand shake? A great rule of thumb is to learn by mimicking what others do. Finally, educate yourself on the country’s customs. Learn about their religions and holidays. How are certain situations handled in society? Do you bring a gift to friend’s dinner party? Do you split the bill at dinner?
Research the Laws:
Basic laws around the world are similar. The laws that you should read up on are the ones with significant cultural ties and prohibitions you may not be aware of. You can find a great deal of information on the US Dept of State: Bureau of Consular Affairs website. The bureau lists information for countries around the world including entry / exit requirements, customs declaration, security and criminal law, traffic law, marriage and divorce law, and medical insurance.
Create a New Community:
We all need people to rely on. Friends to help move heavy items, watch over our homes or pets while we are away and cheer on our favorite sports teams. In a foreign country, you need to lay aside your cultural norms and try new cuisine, entertainment and fun. Sign up for a crafts or cooking class. Find out where people like to hang out. Visit museums, parks, festivals, restaurants and pubs.
Find a Friendly Guide:
The common thread between all of these items is finding a friendly guide; someone who can teach you the language and explain the culture. Ask your friends and colleagues for contacts, reach out to the local tourism board and try local meet-up groups to find someone who help you get comfortable in your new home!