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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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