Today, I hit my anniversary since my family packed everything that we owned and moved overseas and boy, did it fly by. The list seems endless, as I sit here and reflect on what I’ve accomplished and learnt in the last year, but there are certainly a few lessons to note. The best part is that you can take most of them with you no matter if you have moved overseas or not. #1 – Pay Attention to Your Surroundings.
Keep your eyes opened and ears perked at all times because safety and security is important. Before you sign a year lease, rent for a week or a month in a neighborhood, and see if it fits your lifestyle. Does it have a good school for your kids? How close is it to public transportation? Does it have petty crime? Don’t be afraid to ask the locals. I have found them to be the more helpful than the real estate agents.
#2 – Relationships Relationships.
This is becoming such a cliché, but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of whom you know in your city. People want to know who you are and why you live in their country. Get out there and meet people. They will soon be like family. When you have an emergency, it is good to know that you have friends who will be there for you.
#3 – You’re in Control.
No one is going to push you forward, but yourself and that really applies to all aspects of life. You won’t be confident all the time, especially in the beginning, but you should never take a conservative approach by waiting in silence for your neighbors to invite you over for coffee or for dinner. You dictate where you want to be and where you can go – knock on their door and ask someone over to your house.
#4 – Be Open-minded and Willing to Learn.
Yes, you are knowledgeable, but your way isn’t the only way nor is it the right way. Be humble, flexible and adaptable because you are the foreigner. By observing and learning from those around you, you may begin to act more like a local.
#5 – Know Your Currency.
Learning currency conversion is very important. Before you go on a shopping spree, make sure that you have the conversion rate ready, and your calculator on your phone open. You don’t want to bankrupt the first month or two of moving overseas.
#6 – Be Willing to Put in The Hours of Language.
Learning a new language is not easy. Just accept the fact that you will not be fluent in an year. Ok, well, there are some of you that will be, but I just want people to be realistic. There is so much to learn and absorb. Although it’s not always fun, you will need to put in the hours, especially in the beginning when you’re learning and trying to communicate with locals. Be prepared for super high and low moments. I have some great stories about things I said that were COMPLETELY wrong, but the people are so gracious because you are trying. Just remember that. 🙂
#7 – Don’t Be a Whiner.
No one likes to be around the pessimist, who complains about everything. That’s the kind of attitude that doesn’t get you friends. Conditions won’t always be ideal, so strive to have a “what’s the best way to approach this problem” attitude. This way, you’ll become more tactical and strategic in how you handle any obstacles that come your way.
#8 – 100% All the Time.
You won’t like living overseas all the time. There will tasks you’ll need to do that seem insignificant, inconvenient and just flat out senseless. You may even realize that living overseas is not as romantic as you thought, and you’re just not into the gig anymore. Focus on the positive. Take sometime to stop what you are doing, and go outside. Go to your favorite restaurant. Hike your favorite mountain. Sit on your favorite beach.