Making a decision to move abroad can be very difficult for a person and their entire family. Believe it or not, that may not be the hardest part. The chances are that the real struggle begins once you set foot on the ‘foreign’ turf. Here are several of the most common issues reported by the expats and how you can cope with them.
When you first arrive, there is a period of time you take to enjoy things around you. In the beginning, you will observe the differences and perceive them just as they are to you, new things. After a while, or when things start to matter, you will find these differences annoying and on the other side of the logical. That’s a good sign a cultural shock has kicked in. You will feel like Alice in Wonderland no matter how small the issues are. This will particularly affect you if it happens at work. Once you get the logic behind the new system, you will adapt fully. There is nothing much you can do but be patient, it will slowly come to you.
Not knowing the target language is a major issue. If this is the case with you, take language lessons after work. No matter how great of an expert you are, people will not take you seriously unless you speak their language. Even if you do speak the language of your new home it can be challenging as you may get a feeling that people will never meet the real you since it is much harder to express oneself in a foreign language. You may not be entirely familiar with the way intonation can convey a message. I suggest not avoiding social situations in order to practice, practice, practice.
Cooping without friends and family
This issue can be more or less important depending on who it is you are leaving behind. If there are children involved, this one is particularly hard and tricky and my advice to you is to make a decision asap to move your entire family so you can be together. If there are elderly family members depending on you, be sure to find them a caregiver and someone who will be there overlooking the situation. We are lucky to have so many means to communicate efficiently at large distances. The only better thing at this point would be a teleport since at the moment you can both see and hear the person you are talking to. Some people are less nostalgic and can cope with distance easily, knowing that they are doing it for the right cause. If this is you, it will save you a lot of suffering, but then please remember to maintain the relationships with people you left behind for their sake as they may not be coping as well as you are.
The legal system is difficult to understand as it is. Imagine having to settle legal issues abroad. If you are purchasing a property, setting up a business or simply trying to obtain a residential permit for your partner, you need to consult experienced family lawyers. The chances are that not that many people other than those who specialize in it will be able to assist you with your rights and obligations as a nonresident. Please be careful and responsible when doing this as it may turn out to be really complicated to fix things once you do something illegal in a foreign country.
Ok, so even if you can survive perfectly well without those you have left behind, that does not change the fact that you are alone. There is a percentage of people so dedicated to their work that they take pleasure in nothing else and do not need anything apart from their professional lives. On the other hand, in this given situation, most of us miss having people around. You need to build a new network of friends and that is not always the easiest task. The friendships you have at home happened naturally and usually over a period of time and now you have to push yourself into social interactions. As you spend the most of your day at work, check whether there are any colleagues in a similar situation or try to befriend your close associates. Take a course, dancing lessons, practice a sport or find some other activity you can attend after work and mingle. This way you will be able to meet people and with time form some true friendships.
The main trick is to be prepared. Read forums, ask people and google things to find out what you can expect. That way you will be able to get an insight into what your new hosts are like, how they do business and the things they value. Little persistence, confidence in a goal you are achieving and open-mindedness will make your experience an enjoyable one.
Leila Dorari is a marketing consultant and a freelance writer from Sydney. She has been working with different companies for 5 years now. When taking a break from making new marketing slogans, she is either window shopping or exploring new ways to make her life more meaningful.