Moving abroad and starting a new life can be one of the most exciting times of your life and the scariest one, especially if you moved just before the pandemic struck. Under ordinary circumstances, adjusting to life abroad as an expat is the most challenging part of living in a new country. Doing it in the middle of a global pandemic can only make it harder.
If you plan a big move to a new country or continent, it is always advisable to learn about what to expect as an expat because when you are forewarned, you are forearmed.
Regardless of where you plan to move to, all expats face common issues related to relocation. Here are some of the challenges you can expect to encounter when you first move to a new country.
This is one of the most common problems expats face when they first move to a new country. It is especially extreme when you move to a continent or country that speaks a different language. Lack of understanding of the local dialect makes it impossible for you to hold simple conversations like requesting a taxi service or ordering food.
The best way to tackle language barriers is to learn the language before your big move. Start by learning basic phrases that will make it easier for you to navigate the first stages of your move. With time, you can invest in learning the language to make your stay easier.
Depending on where you move, culture shock presents itself in different waves and affects everyone differently. Culture shock is primarily predominant when moving to a different continent with different people. You will notice many differences in how they do things, dressing, food, weather, and culture.
The good thing about culture shock is that it fades into the background as you become accustomed to a new way of life. To adjust faster, learn about the culture and practices of the country before moving. This will save you from a lot of stress when adjusting to a new environment.
When you first move abroad, you leave all your friends and family back home. You get busy with your new life trying to adjust, unpack and get used to the new environment, and sometimes this can strain your relationships. It has been even more challenging in the pandemic since it is not easy to plan a trip back home.
The best way to avoid strained relationships is to maintain a constant line of communication. Schedule times to call everyone back home and reconnect even when you are miles apart. Thankfully, advancements in technology have made it easy and affordable to call home with the numerous free messaging and communication apps available.
Loneliness and homesickness
When you first move to a new place, it is common not to know anyone, which leaves you feeling a little lonely. It is especially difficult to meet new people and make new friends in the pandemic since most social gatherings are restricted or banned. If you are struggling with loneliness and finding your social footing in the new place, reconnecting with your family and friends back home is the best way to handle this.
Even as you spend quality time chatting and calling with your friends back home, you should consider going out there and making new friends.
Coping with homesickness
Sometimes, you are forced to struggle with homesickness
even when you are in constant contact with your loved ones. If you are stuck abroad and unable to travel back home, there are certain things you can do to battle homesickness.
FaceTime with your loved ones
While voice calls and texts are ideal, sometimes seeing the people you love on a screen can make you feel a little less homesick. Make time to skype or FaceTime your family and friends back home. Sometimes seeing their faces and seeing them laugh is all you need to kill the homesickness.
Create a routine
The best way to stop missing home and make the new environment feel like home is to create a routine. If you are used to waking up to music, ensure you schedule your playlist for your morning routine. If you are used to spending your weekends watching sports, you should consider subscribing to your home channels online to enjoy local sports.
Sometimes, geo-restrictions can make it impossible for expats to access channels or content from other countries. When this is the case, many expats use a VPN
to access geo-restricted content. This will give you a sense of belonging and will make you miss home a little less.
Make expat friends
Having someone who understands the struggles you are going through can go a long way in helping you to overcome homesickness. Find time to make new friends through expat social media pages and groups. If you are lucky, you will find a few from your home country, which will bring the feeling of home closer to you.
As most people will tell you, homesickness eventually fades away as you create a new life in the new country. While change is hard for everyone at first, this guide will make it easier for you to adjust.