5 Things to Remember When Becoming An Expat

BecomingAnExpatAt some point or another, almost everyone has fantasized about packing up and spending some time in another country. Maybe you’ve got the itch to live in a different climate, to try different foods or to become bilingual. Whatever the reason, if you’ve decided you’re ready to give things a try in another country, here’s some things you should remember.

1. Remember to keep your expectations realistic. If you need help in finding “reality” in your new situation, ask your boss or other associates who have been lived here for a while.

2. Everyone is different in how they deal with jet-lag and in how long it takes them to get over jet-lag. This can cause extra problems for families with children as every family member can be on a different schedule for a while. Some people want to stay up as long as possible the first day, and some people need to sleep a bit to begin getting over jet lag and to begin getting back on a normal schedule. Do what you need to do for you.

3. Even after you get over jet-lag, you will likely feel more tired day-to-day than you ever did in the U.S. Living in another country and culture and constantly dealing with another language that you don’t understand is exhausting. You may find that you need more sleep each night or that you need to take afternoon naps to get through the early days even if you never did that in the U.S.

4. It is possible that you might spend your first weeks feeling “sort of off-balance.” For many people this has lasted just a few weeks; for a few, it went on for much of their first year—everyone is different. Culture shock, stress of adjustment, and sensory and information overload combine to help create this weird feeling. If you experience this, it will eventually pass, but can feel difficult to get through.

5. No matter how hard it is, be open and honest about your struggles. We all have struggles from time to time—especially in the beginning of our adjustment to the move. It is gross, but it is normal. If you share your struggles, then others have the opportunity to encourage and love. They will probably even share some of their own struggles from their initial adjustment. If you are having difficulties, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. However, if you don’t get help with your struggles early on, then you could eventually become the “failure” you fear.

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