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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 January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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