Living, working and studying abroad are all wonderful things to do in life. You can do things that you would have never thought possible. You can learn about new countries, cultures and lifestyles. You can gain a lot of experience that will help influence your work, study and life. You can eat many different foods, get off your present beaten track, and live, indulge, wonder and just be - AWARE. Spending time abroad, in any capacity, does wonders for a person, but those wonders aren't coming easily. Anxieties await. Loneliness lurks. Isolation invites itself in. Challenges caress your hand. Life abroad is a 2 sided coin.
Here are 6 things you can do to ready yourself for a big adventure in your life.
You really need to prepare yourself for spending any extended time abroad . As I just mentioned, Life abroad is a 2 sided coin - for all the good things you will experience, there will be challenges waiting for you just around the corner. Good things to do in your preparation phase could include thoroughly researching things ( a very good idea ), Brainstorming ( to get yourself thinking ), and answering certain questions like
- What do I want to do with my life?
- Do I want to live, work and study abroad?
- What is driving me towards this want?
- Have I discussed this with my family and friends? Do they support my decision to do this? What will I do if they do not support me?
- What administrative preparation do I need to do for life abroad?
- Does living abroad fit in with my future plans?
- What am I prepared to give in order to make life abroad a good one?
- What research am I prepared to do about the country I am going to?
- What intercultural experience do I already have?
- What do I REALLY want to do with my life?
Life abroad is much more than just stepping aboard an airplane and going to a distant place. You are packing up, moving to, going to, looking to settle into and experience a different life, and you need to prepare for it. The more preparation you do, the better equipped you will be.
Mentally Prepare Yourself
When you are sure that you have fulfilled all of the administrative requirements for living abroad, and you have readied yourself physically through asking yourself the questions above, there will come a time when you will be reflecting on your decision. This time usually comes between the time you have ticked all the required boxes - especially receiving your visa and work/study permits - and the time you leave. For some people, this is when reality sets in. You start packing things up.
You start to close things in your own country. You start to wind things down. You start to say goodbye. You would not be human if you didn’t feel it. Getting emotional is a perfectly natural thing to do at this time, and the best thing to do is, really, to just let it be. What is coming is coming. There is no need to try and hold things back. After all, you ARE ready for the challenge that awaits, so accept it, embrace it, get ready to thrive in it, and BE IT.
Live the first few days
Life at your new address, at your new workplace and school, in your new city, in your new country - will begin the moment you set foot on the ground. There is no way around it. There is also no way around the fact that you will feel a mixture of emotions. You will be excited, bewildered, sad, happy, anxious, annoyed, interested, concerned, jet lagged and Sleepy - most likely all at the same time. You are in a foreign land and you will experience many firsts, including your first time in the house and neighborhood, your first day in the office and your first day at your new school. You are settling in and all of those things mentioned above will come. The best thing to do, really, is just let them happen. The more you put up defenses against them, the harder it will be to get rid of them ( if needed ). Some other good things to do are try to meet people, try to make some friends and just get out and look around the new area in order to get familiar with things. This will help to make your first few days at your new address a little easier.
Get to know your office and school
Once you have settled in to your new address and neighborhood, you will then be ready to get down to business starting in your new office and school. So - GET AMONGST IT. The time for you to start living the reason why you came to another country has arrived so it is best to not put things off any longer yeh?? Some of the ways you can get around things are to get to your office as early as possible so you know where things are, get to have a look around your school so you can get a good feel of the place, check out the surroundings near your office and school so you can acclimatize, and make early friends and contacts in your school and office. You will be dealing with many things at this time, so its best to take a positive approach and be pro-active in meeting things head on.
Feel the downers
Sadly team, one thing is for sure. No matter how much gusto you jump into your new life with, there are going to be times when you will be anxious, emotional, fed up, frustrated, distant and alone. Moving to a new country to start a new life is not an easy task. You have packed up your life and left your friends and family behind and ventured into what could be considered as the great unknown. You do the best you can to embrace it but there are times when you will need to accept things as they are, not as we are used to them being. Its in these times that you must remember to contact and keep in touch with your friends and family back home. They are the people who know you really well. They know pretty much everything about you and they are the ones who can help you through the tough times. You can also lean on our support network, particularly that which includes other expatriate workers and students, in the country you are in. Many people have gone before you, so do not be afraid to seek them out and get their advice on how to do things while living abroad. Many hands make light work yeh??
Believe it will all be worth it.
One thing is for sure team - Your trip and life abroad will be worth it. You will experience new things, you will grow and you will become a much better person for it. Your friends and family at home will marvel at the positive changes you have made. The people who left them behind was adventurous, wide eyed, a little star struck and bounding with positive energy. This will have been replaced by a person who has come back matured, grounded, experienced and very capable. You will have experienced living, working and/or studying in another country, but furthermore, you will have seen the inner workings like no one can do if they are not there on the ground floor. Should you go back to live and work in your home country, you will bring perspectives that only an experienced person will be able to bring. You will have faced many trials and challenges to get there, but once there, you will certainly realize the journey has been worth it.
Living, working and studying abroad are wonderful experiences. You can, and most likely, will learn so much from them. The joy, growth and maturity you will experience will be great and they will shape you into a dynamic person that will play a wonderful role in this ever globalizing world. Do, however, realize that moving abroad is a big decision and is not one that should be taken lightly. You will have to prepare yourself and face some harsh realities for living your new life. I have included the above to give you so solid guidance on how you can navigate the choppy waters you will face. I hope you come through unscathed and I wish you well on your endeavors living abroad.