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9 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Moving To A New Country

9 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Moving To A New Country

While relocating abroad is one of the most significant and exciting lifestyle decisions that you will ever consider, it is also one of the most daunting. This is something that is commonplace in the modern age, with technology having broken down many of the barriers to travel and encouraged individuals of all ages to ply their trade abroad. To understand this further, you need only look at how many of the world’s most talented young footballers play abroad and are willing to travel across the globe while still in their teens.

This highlights just how willing people are to relocate to a new country, whether this is for work, love, or recreation. How many of these people understand the demands of relocating overseas, however, and what lessons can they learn from those of us who have already made this life commitment? Here are some points from my own experience.

1. I wish I was prepared for being lonely when first moving overseas

As a sociable person, I never anticipated that I would experience loneliness when first moving to a new country. Once the adrenaline of planning and traveling wears off, however, you may find yourself feeling isolated from the friends, family, and familiar comforts that you associate with home. The key is to remain calm and focused during the first few months as you adapt to your new conditions and environment. It is also wise to interact with other travelers who can identify with your feelings, while using mobile technology to maintain contact with home.

2. I wish I’d known how living abroad changes you as a person

While moving abroad usually improves your outlook as a person, this change can be extremely impactful and catch unsuspecting travelers off guard. This was certainly the case for me, as my experience of new cultures and philosophies broadened my mind and left with me new friends to last for a lifetime. This also changes the dynamics of existing relationships at home, and while some connections may be lost, those that remain will undergo a sustained period of transition. You must therefore be prepared for this and make a commitment to communicate regularly and openly with your existing friends while living abroad.

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3. I wish I’d known how hard it is to learn a new language

While English is considered to be a largely universal language, it is scarcely used at all in some remote corners of the world. I also found that it was considered rude to use your native tongue in some instances when abroad, especially when making no attempt to learn another. I underestimated the hardships of learning a brand new language as an adult (in my case Spanish), primarily due to the added pressures of starting a new job and adapting to an unfamiliar culture.

If I had my time again, I would start the learning process at least six months prior to leaving my homeland and would also urge you to do the same!

4. I wish I’d known how limited I was in terms of cultural knowledge

In many ways, the rising number of expats living abroad (especially from developed economies such as the U.S. and the U.K.) has diluted some of the cultural challenges of moving overseas. Some fundamental differences still exist, while those moving further afield to the far east or South America will quickly come across an entirely different way of life that is far removed from their individual values.

I found some Spanish customs difficult enough, so you cannot do enough pre-work when researching the heritage of your new home and any cultural values that may vary from region to region.

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5. I wish I’d known that living abroad would not be an extended vacation

If I could impart one piece of advice to anyone moving abroad, it would be to manage your expectations. While it is tempting to buy into the dream of enjoying a stress-free existence in sunny and exotic climes, you must remember that at some point the novelty will fade and the realities of your new day-to-day life will begin to bite. This includes the need to pay bills and taxes, while basic household chores such as cooking, cleaning, and ironing will still need to be done.

So, before you leave, focus your mindset on the realities of living abroad and make sure that you prepare for a realistic experience.

6. I wish I’d known that it is OK to integrate slowly into new surroundings

As an openminded and laid-back character, I felt confident that I would adapt quickly to my new surroundings when relocating abroad. This was far from the case, however, although alarmingly I placed a great deal of pressure on myself to settle quickly, make new friends, and adapt culturally. This was not the case, and in hindsight I should have accounted for living with homesickness and not made my own circumstances worse by pushing myself to integrate quicker.

So remember that it is alright for you to feel vulnerable and homesick when you first relocate abroad, as this is simply part of the process of moving. Give yourself time to adapt and always keep in mind that everyone reacts to change differently and in variable amounts of time.

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7. I wish I’d known how to take joy in the simple things

During an initial period of homesickness, it is easy to overanalyze your feelings and embark on increasingly desperate measures to overcome them. You may even spend heavily to recreate some of those home comforts that you are desperately missing, but the fact remains that it is an ability to take joy in the simple things that will make for an easier transition. A photograph of a loved one or a simple Skype call can fill a significant void, for example, and having this knowledge would have helped me to save a great deal of money when I first moved!

8. I wish I’d known that life would move on at home

While I was at least subconsciously aware that life would carry on without me for my loved ones at home, this thought never crossed my mind prior to relocating. It is only when you begin to see images and updates on social media or receive letters from home that you see your friends continuing their lives as normal, and this tends to come as a significant shock to the system. There is no doubt that it can hurt, while you can also become paranoid that your closest friends and loved ones will forget about you.

This is an irrational thought process, however, and one that will unnecessarily ruin your experience living abroad. Keep in mind that life carries on simply because it has to, and that you are continuing your own existence as they are their own.

9. I wish I’d known what to expect from the change in climate

While this may not be true for everyone, the majority of international relocations introduce travelers to new and unusual climate conditions. Whether you are moving to a sun-drenched country such as Spain or a wintry destination like Iceland, it is crucial that you research the year-round temperature averages in your new home and pack appropriate clothing for all seasons.

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Remember to take clothing and accessories for both summer and winter, while also preparing yourself mentally for the climactic change.

Featured photo credit: Moyan Brenn / Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 19, 2019

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

1. Create a Daily Plan

Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

3. Use a Calendar

Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

4. Use an Organizer

An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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5. Know Your Deadlines

When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

6. Learn to Say “No”

Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

7. Target to Be Early

When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

8. Time Box Your Activities

This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

11. Focus

Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

12. Block out Distractions

What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

13. Track Your Time Spent

When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

15. Prioritize

Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

16. Delegate

If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

For related work, batch them together.

For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

  1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
  2. coaching
  3. workshop development
  4. business development
  5. administrative

I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

19. Cut off When You Need To

The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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