Are you thinking about taking the big step of moving abroad? There are many things that you need to consider before doing so. Moving away from home can be difficult for anybody. I have lived both away from home and abroad many times since I was 18, including prolonged periods of travel. So for those who want to know what it entails, here are the most important things to take note of.
- Water is your best friend
In hotter countries it is vital to increase your intake of water. Drinking water is also important for weight loss, preventing spots, preventing dehydration and avoiding sun stroke. A cold, sugary soft drink may be more appealing to you, but they have many sugars and calories that are not good for your body. Weight gain can be a side effect of increased intake of sugary drinks and alcohol. Remember to drink at least three litres of water a day.
It is important to research about local delicacies before you move. Research ingredients that are used in the food; buy them, cook them and eat them, if you can. Go to a restaurant in your home country and see if you are interested in the food on the menu. Just be aware that the food will taste different in the native country. If you like the food, you are good to go. If you do not like the food, then you must be aware that it will make your time in the country more difficult. It is important to be open to try different foods. The food may not agree with your stomach right away either. Keep a pack of Imodium on you at all times. Luckily, the more time that you spend there, the more your stomach will get used to it. Also keep in mind that there are different eating times in other countries. So a healthy snack in between meals may be important. You must find a way around this, or get used to it, whichever works best for you.
3. Your body
Ensure that you take care of your body when you move to a new country. The physical and emotional stress will have dramatic effects upon your body. For women, it is important to note that your periods may be late or missed. Your body will also react to the climate, food and everything else that is new. You may notice weight gain or weight loss. However, after a few weeks your body will begin to normalise. Make sure you exercise and do not over indulge too often. This will make it easier for you.
- The climate
Research about the climate before you move. It is essential to know what to expect all year around so you can pack accordingly. Make sure that you also understand what is appropriate for that country, as some countries are more conservative than others. Protect you skin with high factors of cream. A quick tan may seem desirable, but consider the fact you will be spending prolonged time in the sun, and a gradual tan lasts for much longer. The sun will also age your skin dramatically, and so I recommend wearing factor 50 or 30, even if you do not burn. Look after your skin.
- The culture
It is always important to know about the culture of your new country, otherwise you may run the risk of offending locals. For example, you must take your footwear off when entering somewhere indoors in Thailand. Many countries hold their customs dear, and so it is essential to learn about them in order to integrate. Culture is one of the most beautiful things about different countries. Make sure that you are able to integrate to their culture, as if you cannot it will be difficult for you.
- Greetings and etiquette
Make a point of finding out how people greet each other in your chosen country. This will prevent you from coming across as rude or overbearing. For example, some cultures like to hug and kiss on the cheek, some people kiss on the cheeks twice, and some people prefer a handshake. You must never assume how it should be done, or do it the way you do in your home country, unless it is welcomed. There are also different table manners in different societies that are important to learn.
- Social norms
It is essential to learn social norms, and to try to adapt to them the best that you can. People from all over the world behave differently. Therefore it is important to be aware of these differences. If you find that the social norms are not fitting with your attitude, then it may not be a good experience for you.
You may find that in some moves you have to learn another language. Even if the country speaks the same language as you, there may be ethnic minority groups in certain areas who speak another language. So even though it may not be essential to learn it, it is essential to know about it. It is also important to note that even within the same language, they will have different words for some things. Learning the language of your new country is vital to living well and for integrating with your new society. There are many ways to do this including classes or by learning online.
Learn about the religion or religions of the country, as it will be integrated into their culture and customs. You do not have to convert to the religion, but you do have to be accepting of the views of other people.
- Safety first
You must be aware that there is danger anywhere in the world. That is unfortunately the way of the world. It is important to research about recent history. This can provide you with a better indication of whether or not the move is right for you. If you can, ask people online or on social media about the country or city before you make any commitments. At the same time, never presume anything or go off of a stereotype.
- Cost of living
It is important to know the cost of living, since you will need to budget effectively. Learn the currency and the exchange rates. Remember that things may be cheaper or more expensive compared to your home country, but for their country that is normal. So you must accept this. Research how much it costs to rent or buy a property, the price of utilities, and the cost of food, etc.
How will you get around your new city? What age do you have to be to rent a car, scooter or motorbike? How much do they cost? Make sure that you know before you go. A bike may cost 200 baht in Thailand, but you may also have to give them your passport for the duration of your use. Be aware of everything. It is important to know how much the flights will cost if you would like others to come to visit you there. This will help you maintain realistic expectations of whether they actually can or not.
- Missing home
Are you the type to miss home when you are on a weekend away or a holiday? Make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into. Some people are unable to be away from home for prolonged periods. Ensure that you do not get yourself into a contract job for a certain period, unless you are fully prepared to see it through. Otherwise you risk letting a lot of people down. The time difference can be hard, also. The world is a lot smaller now with the internet. Therefore, it is easier to keep in contact with people back home. It is normal to miss the people that you love. So do not think that it is a weakness, but if it is unbearable, then it may not be for you.
- Job prospects
Moving to paradise may all be well and good, but how will you support yourself. You may find that there are no job prospects for you there. This may prevent you from establishing a life there. You need to know how you will plan to support yourself. This is extremely important.
- Get your Visa
The most important thing you need to have to live and work in another country is to obtain the right visa. This can be a long process, so allow time for this before you buy your flights or make any other solid arrangements. It is easy to find information about working visas on the internet. Make sure that you get the right one. It is harder to obtain a visa in some countries than others so do your research.
Photo credit: Chantal Elizabeth Speed and Alonso Ruvalcaba Zatarain and Barbara Riley.