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10 Honest Truths About Moving To A Different Country

10 Honest Truths About Moving To A Different Country

There is something incredibly romantic about packing your bags and hitting the road. Maybe it’s the promise of adventure, the adrenaline of being in a place where no one knows who you are, the unpredictability that anything can happening at any given moment, the burgeoning hope of limitless possibility, or the simple excitement of waking up to see the sun rise on a foreign city.

Since time immemorial, moving to a different locale has been sentimentalized by the media. Breakfast At Tiffany’s made the commitment-phobic woes of Holly Golightly seem quite appealing. Under the Tuscan Sun gave us the idea that sometimes heartbreak can lead to olive picking, renovating a crumbling chateau, and meeting a devastatingly handsome stranger. Movies like Burlesque and Coyote Ugly convinced us that it’s possible for a small-town lass to make it in a big city. But uprooting your whole life and replanting it on foreign soil is far more complex than Hollywood would lead us to believe.

When I made my own cross-continental move as a young adult a few years back, I was ready for thrill and adventure. What I failed to anticipate were the days and nights of complete bewilderment; the slow, tedious process of adjustment and the confusing feelings of being transient. Contemplating a big move to a different city, coast, or country? Here are ten honest truths that will prepare you for the challenging but oh-so-worth-it life change that lies ahead.

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1. It takes a lot of planning.

You may think moving is as easy as hitchhiking, but there is a lot to be done beyond just booking a one-way ticket. Where will you live? Will you need to obtain some sort of visa or permit? Do you have a job lined up, or enough savings to tide you over until you do? If something goes terribly awry, who will be your nearest emergency contact? Being practical now will help you keep your feet on the ground once your move has gotten your life in flux.

2. Prepare to be overwhelmed.

The days leading up to a big move will be some of the most hectic in your life. Getting important documents ready, going for medical checkups, putting your life away in cardboard boxes—all these can numb your emotions until the very last minute. But then it hits you like a tidal wave. Expect to be that crazy person weeping like it’s the apocalypse at boarding. Somewhere mid-Atlantic, when you’re on your second glass of wine and the third movie of the flight, doubt and incredible sadness will creep in. Did you make the right decision? Are you insane for doing what you’re doing? Did you just ruin your own life? Relax. Embrace the uncertainty. It’s all part of process.

3. Homesickness is real.

No matter how independent you may be, you will wake up one day violently craving some kind of soup your mom made in your childhood. You will find yourself sitting on your bed, surrounded by used tissues, snotty and unintelligible while on Skype with your best friend. There will be times when you’ll feel like you’re living in two time zones and, for a while at least, that will be the reality. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk to whoever it is you’re missing. It’ll help.

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4. You will be challenged in every way possible.

You will get lost. You will feel vulnerable and afraid. You will commit social faux pas. Three weeks into moving to New York, I broke my foot stepping off a train on school orientation day. I was alone and could not walk a single step without collapsing in pain. I ended up having to rely on the kindness of my new classmates and my school’s program director to ice my foot and get me to the hospital. Which brings me to the next point.

5. You will need help.

Don’t be too proud to ask for it. No man is an island. You’ll be surprised at how strangers will step up to the plate and exhibit kindness.

6. Life will go on without you.

There will be countless parties, birthdays, weddings, etc. that you will miss. At first it will feel like a stab in the heart to see people you love celebrate milestones without you. But as a friend of mine wisely told me, “You can’t always be there for everyone’s milestones. Because then you might miss your own.”

7. Homesickness ends.

One day, you’ll wake up and won’t feel the need to weep. You will develop a routine, a rhythm. The streets will start to make sense in your brain and will stop being so unfamiliar. You will meet new people who will welcome you into their tribe. What once felt so scary and strange will start to feel like home. That said, we come to the next point.

8. There’s culture shock, then there’s reverse culture shock.

The day you touch down in your homeland, prepare to find things not quite how you remember. My favorite example of this is escalator etiquette. When I first moved to New York, I didn’t know that the right side of the escalator was for standing still, the left for walking. Now, whenever I visit the Philippines, I have no idea where to place myself escalator-wise. It’s hilarious.

9. You will “go native.”

Ah, the day the rose-colored glasses come off. No matter how in love with a place you are, one day it will feel like real life again. There will be bills to pay and chores to do. Life catches up, and it’s not all fun and games. I knew I had gone native the moment I learned to angrily squeeze myself into a crowded subway during rush hour and developed an allergy to Times Square.

10. Prepare to have your life changed forever.

I thought that moving to a different country “for a couple of years” wouldn’t be a big deal in the long run. I thought I could easily go back to the status quo once my adventuring was over. But those years are your life, and they cannot be compartmentalized. You will grow and make mistakes, discover surprising things about yourself that you didn’t know, push limits and learn to create boundaries, fall in and out of love, and meet some of your best friends in the whole wide world. It will turn your life inside out and upside down. It will change you completely.

Featured photo credit: Transformer18 via flic.kr

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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