Moving to a new country is one of the most daunting and yet rewarding experience that can happen in one’s life. It isn’t easy to settle to a new routine, adjust to a new culture, or find a new set of people. But I have always believed that the things outside your comfort zone are where the magic happens.
Here are ten ways to make living abroad easy!
#1 Explore local places.
Visit museums on weekends. Try out new restaurants on Friday night. Go to cafes where locals hang out. Just like when you travel, your senses are heightened with all the quirky things happening beyond your usual routine. Take advantage of that and get creative until you find something that clicks. It’s fun especially when you’re just starting to figure things out, make friends and learn the ropes of this new city you’re in.
#2 Volunteer in church and/or community.
Join volunteer groups or be part of a church ministry. Once you do, try to keep at it regularly. I say this because this is where you’ll find people who believes or supports a cause that you also believe and support. Meeting them frequently will help solidify the friendship and make lasting relationships.
#3 Don’t compare.
Don’t feel bad when others are not speaking your language because ideally, you should learn how to speak theirs. Don’t convert when you buy an expensive basic necessity that is actually cheap back home (I used to be like this at first because everything is low-priced in the Philippines!) Don’t expect people to behave the way you do. Remember that your hometown’s culture maybe different from where you’re living right now. Learn to adjust and live like a local without compromising the person that you are.
#4 You don’t have to have everything figured out.
Learn as much as you can without beating yourself up. You may have to do a lot of crazy stuff and meet a lot of people who end up you can’t jive with. Not everything will make sense on the first try and it can be overwhelming. Just take each day at a time and soon enough you’ll find your own groove and new friends you love to be with.
#5 Don’t take rejection personally.
There will be times when you won’t get the job you always wanted. Or when you have to settle for a lower salary just to have one. There will also be times when people will question your knowledge. Or say mean comments about your look or behavior. Words or action may sometimes feel like rejection even though that wasn’t the intention. Discern constructive feedback from actual rejection. When it is, don’t take them personally and just focus on improving yourself. Keep in mind that not all people will like you, and you don’t need to please everyone as well.
#6 Stay away from negative voices.
Living abroad is not all love and lemons. You will have to deal with bad days and bad attitude. Stay away from people who show off the latter. They will only bring you down and make you focus on the wrong things. There is no perfect life but whining over things beyond your control isn’t going to make them better. Keep a positive attitude, your life will become happier and more successful with it.
#7 Don’t feel guilty about leaving.
When you’re missing out on special occasions like Christmas, birthdays or weddings, it’s easy to feel guilty for choosing to live away from your family and friends. In days like this, remember the reason why you decided to left in the first place. Your desires to give your family a good life and to achieve your dreams are just as important. It’s a hard feeling to deal with but take comfort that people who actually matter understands.
#8 Keep a list of your home comforts.
Whether it’s a familiar music playlist, a rustic bookshop or a recipe of a meal your family always share with, make a list of things that will help you feel like you’re next to home. This will come in handy when homesickness kicks in and you will want to drop everything. It is okay to feel homesick but don’t give up! Do these things on your list to make you feel connected to something familiar or when you need to recharge.
#9 Have a support group.
These are the friends that you can really open up and share you’re struggles with while living abroad. You’d want these people to be someone who knew you very well and have a background of what you’ve been through for years. They can give you well-rounded personal (not general) support and usually, that matters.
#10 Lastly, embrace your new life.
Yes, it will be so much different from your old lifestyle. Yes, it won’t be as familiar and secure as your living back then. But it’s okay! It’s actually a good thing because you’re doing things that you don’t feel comfortable with doing and undergoing a ‘pruning’ process. Resisting change will only make the living abroad transition harder. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and allow others to help you.
I guess it’s good to be reminded of how far I’ve gone from the shy 25-year-old I was when I first arrived in Singapore. Even ordering in Mcdonald’s (where menu is different from home) or the most basic conversations is a challenge to me then. A lot of time I have no idea what Singaporeans talk about. I used to be bubbly, but my jokes no longer work or relate to them. :)
Even so, I am changing, evolving, and learning every day.