Hello my travel giraffes! Welcome back to the blog. Today’s post is a hefty one because it is looking at emotional and practical things to consider when you live abroad. I know when I had the chance to move to the UK, I considered it an opportunity to experience a new country. It will change you completely, because it changed me and that’s what these type of experiences do. It will also change your outlook on life more than you can ever imagine, and although this is a truly exciting time in someone’s life for those who get the chance to do it, it can also be quite a stressful and confusing time.
Emotional and Practical Things to Consider when You Live Abroad
Whilst you may be aware of the practical aspects that planning a move abroad will require – regardless of how long you’re planning on moving for, you may not be aware of the emotional rollercoaster that you will go through.
Some of these things you may have heard of and some are maybe not so common and are going to be let expected, so in this post, in order to help you adapt to your move and perhaps also your move back home as much as possible and leave you with less nasty surprises or confusing emotions, we want to cover both of the aspects in this post of the emotional and practical things that you should consider when you live abroad.
Culture shock is a relatively well-known concept and it’s something that happens when you move abroad but it also happens when you travel to other countries that are a little bit different or very different to yours. However, culture shock is something that when you live in another country, comes with a wide range of emotions and typically works in stages.
The first stage of culture shock will be the honeymoon phase whereby you think that everything in the new place is so amazing and everything from back home is just rubbish so you will be essentially wearing rose tinted glasses looking at the new place.
Nevertheless, once you start to move through the phases of culture shock reality will start to sink in. You will move through different stages of emotion where you might even end up disliking the place where you’re in and feeling like you don’t belong there.
Culture shock is something that you either adapt to, and you learn to appreciate your new life for what it is and see the positives. Alternatively, it can result in you withdrawing from society and living in a bubble – perhaps where you only mix with other expats (read immigrants). Or, you could even decide to just give up and go home.
A tip would be to read about culture shock and get familiar with it and how it may affect you. It might just be the thing that helps you to prepare for it.
Homesickness is a big one and typically affects a lot of people. It can either be so bad that you’re simply not able to stay in the new place. Or, it can fade away after a bit of time living in the country. For most people, it comes in waves and it will come at certain times – for example, during the holidays or during the special family events where you maybe can’t get home for those. Homesickness may kick in for a day or two, but typically it will pass and it’s something that most people who live abroad deal with occasionally. If homesickness starts to become really terrible for you and you feel like you’re struggling then perhaps living abroad is not really going to be for you and that’s ok – not everyone is supposed to live in different countries from their own and it’s not a lifestyle that’s going to suit everyone.
Frustration is another big one that’s going to happen regardless of where you live. However, when you live in another country frustration levels can seem even higher. This can be amplified by things like language barriers and cultural barriers where you feel like nothing is the same and nothing works in the new country where you are. However, if you choose to see the good in the place that you are, then you’ll see that these daily frustrations can happen anywhere and they’re just part of life.
Look from the perspective that there’s good and bad in everything because nowhere is perfect. This will help you manage your frustrations a lot better.
Reverse Culture Shock
Reverse culture shock is the least known of these four emotional stages and it’s something that hits people really hard and unexpectedly. Reverse culture shock happens when you visit your home country. This can either be for a trip or, in some cases, you move back permanently.
Reverse culture shock is something that makes you feel alienated and you start to feel that you don’t really know where you belong. Reverse culture shock can pass after a while, but it’s also important to do some research on this and understand more about it. It’s a very strange phenomenon, and it does happen a lot more often than people talk about. Connecting with people who have perhaps lived abroad, who will understand since people who are living in your home country and have never left will not understand reverse culture shock. Not surprisingly, feeling this way can lead to things like depression, anxiety and a feeling of detachment from the people and places around you.
What Paperwork You Need
If you’re planning a move abroad then you need to know what paperwork you need for what country. Look into the types of visas, work permits, and any other papers or permissions that you may need. What may be a straightforward process in your home country, could become tricky whilst living abroad. For example you may need permissions to work a certain number of hours, have a driver’s licence or even rent a flat. These are all things that you need to be able to have in place or, know how to go about obtaining them before you step on a plane. This could make a huge difference between getting on the plane and being turned away at the airport which, is not going to be a fun experience.
If You Need To Learn A Language
Depending on which country you want to live in, you should know if you’re going to need to learn the language and what the best approach for you to do this. It would be advisable to take some classes before you leave home. Or you can teach yourself using an app. The best way to actually learn the language in a way that you can use it daily, is to just immerse yourself in the culture. Surround yourself with people who speak the language on a day-to-day basis.
Where you’ll Live
Another one of those emotional and practical things to consider when you live abroad is actually, where you will live. Although you don’t have to have the exact neighbourhood locked down before you leave, it’s important to know roughly where you’re going to live. Also you need to think about if you’re going to live in a house, a flat, a condominium or even know which area or city you would like to live in. By doing some research before you go, will make your move a lot easier and knowing which place would perhaps suit your lifestyle better. Trust me there’s nothing worse than living somewhere that makes you unhappy.
If You Need Insurance
The final thing to think about is insurance and if you will need it. Many countries require health insurance for their citizens and residents and it is obligatory. This is something that you might need to consider before you move to another country. Insurance might be a requirement of being issued with a visa or work permit. If you don’t have plans in place to get health insurance, then I would suggest that you check this out before you leave. If you’re relocating for a job find out if this is something your employer will arrange for you. However, if not, you can always contact expat companies who will advise you on what is required for coverage.
I know it’s a hefty blog post but, moving countries is a big deal. Whilst it is fun and exciting you can’t forget the emotional and practical things to consider when you live abroad. Hope you found this post helpful.
Until next time, be well! x