Picture yourself sitting on the plane, packing done, goodbyes said, all that is left to do now is to start your new life – abroad!
How are you feeling?
No doubt a mixture of excitement, anticipation, perhaps even a small element of fear? After all this is a new start, there may also be an element of regret, perhaps sorrow at leaving behind friends and family – a former life behind. But overall you feel ready, you’ve prepared well, you’re ready for the adventure to begin!
So a new beginning….
As the plane soars across the open skies you begin to imagine what your new life is going to be (in between breaking up the kiddy fights if your family is anything like mine!). What will this new experience hold for you, your partner and family? Was it the right decision? A ha! the million dollar question. And what of the challenges – how will you cope? well here are a few tips for starters!
Open and enquiring mind.
Start with your mantra that you will seek to understand rather than judge what you see and experience. This can be difficult at the start as often when we are pushed out of our comfort zone we feel vulnerable, uncomfortable, even embarrassed and it can be easy to become defensive and start the ‘new expat routine’ of well
‘it’s not like it is back home’ ‘
‘we just do it so much better….’
My advice, don’t even go there, cut yourself off in mid sentence and zip your lips, it really is not pretty! And of those of you who are saying ‘but I’d never’ my answer is simply ‘I bet one exasperated day….’!!!!!
A sense of humor.
When you feel your shackles beginning to rise this is the time to put on a smile and have a little inner laugh at yourself or the situation. You will get through the embarrassing, difficult times so simply smile and preserve your dignity.
Many an expat has found solace in a good conversation, but of course if can be difficult to find people to talk to in the early days so one suggestion from a friend of mine is that you find a local coffee shop visit it regularly and get to know a few locals even if you don’t speak the language. Initially they will stare, occassionally smile but gradually they will say good morning as you arrive and you will become a part of their everyday routine – accepted and a small part of something which feels good I promise you! Join some activity groups, sports, a health club, language lessons, expat clubs anything that gets you out and about meeting people and sharing experiences.
Just do it!
Yes I know those pesky administrative and bureaucratic tasks are less than appealing, embarrassing as well if you don’t speak the language, but they get you out and ‘doing’ and the sense of achievement when you finally get the right form, a smile or even a helping hand, can make all the difference to your day.
Expect the down-times
Initially you may feel like you are on holiday, but as you gradually get more into the day-to-day routine of everyday life you may find you start to miss home, your friends, food, books and magazines, favourite walks and so on. Sometimes it may just all seem too much. Be kind to yourself at these times, ask yourself what do I really want to do right now? it may be close the door for a few days, sleep and watch movies to recharge your batteries OR it may be to ‘get away’ from the pressures of your new life, work, so find that beautiful beach, a calming location and let yourself go for a few blissful days – it will make all the difference.
What other characteristics do you think/or know will help to get you through the first months abroad?