Moving abroad can be a bittersweet experience for many people. On one hand, you have an exciting new life to look forward to as an expat, full of new experiences and new people. And on the other, there are those feelings of culture shock, nostalgia, and the fact that you’re missing what you left behind. Here are some simple tips on how to counter these feelings and succeed as an expat.
If you’re moving abroad, it’s easy to get excited and look ahead with optimism at your new life. There’s a whole new world in front of you, new cultures to experience, new languages to learn, new places to explore, new friends to make. It’s an amazing time, even if it’s a little scary and overwhelming.
One of the scary aspects about moving abroad and becoming an expat is what you’re leaving behind. Giving up your old life, saying goodbye to friends and family can be tough.
In fact, many expats end up moving back home in their first few years because they miss people and find it hard to acclimatize to their new lives.
It’s a simple fact that moving to a new country – a new culture – often comes packaged with feelings of alienation, of feeling like a stranger. And not having friends or family around to help you, or any sense of familiarity can make things worse, no matter how adventurous a spirit you are. Culture shock is a real thing and can be hard to deal with.
Central America has a lot to offer a new expat. It has great weather, spectacular scenery, gorgeous nature, tropical beaches, and great people. But before you can experience all these things to their full effect, you’ll need to get adjusted to your new home. You’ll need to get used to living in a new country.
We have a few tips on how you can do that!
Don’t lose contact with your past – stay in touch with friends and family:
A mistake many expats make is that they don’t make a conscious effort to stay in touch with friends and family back home.
Just because your friends and family aren’t there with you in person, doesn’t mean you can’t count on them during and after the move.
Even if you live in different time zones, you need to keep in touch with them. If there’s one thing the current pandemic has gotten us all used to, it’s the Zoom meet. Use Zoom, FaceTime, or anything else to stay in touch. Even use the good old-fashioned telephone!
Speaking on a regular basis with the folks back home can help you feel anchored and diminish any feelings of isolation you may have. That, in turn, can go a long way to making sure you’re not one of those expats who end up returning home within your first two years.
Embrace your present – get out there and make new friends.
Once you’re settled down and all the logistics of your move are complete – it’s time to check out your new area.
Be a tourist for a while and explore, sure. But also see what your new home has to offer for other expats. The most successful expats learn the language and make local friends. They embrace their new culture while still staying in touch with their own.
But before that, you might want to find other people in the same boat as you. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.
Join some of the social media expat groups in your new country. Facebook has expat groups in every Central American country you can join. Here you can swap stories, ask advice, and feel you’re not alone.
You should also step away from the internet and go out into the real world. Find your local bar, gym, supermarket, whatever. You’ll end up making friends with people for sure.
Watch the TV and movies you used to watch.
Embracing your new life abroad as an expat doesn’t mean giving up everything from your old life, though.
There’s nothing wrong with consuming the media from back home. This can not only help keep you up to date with what’s going on at home, but can also help you with the inevitable waves of homesickness you’ll face at first. And you’ll always have some nostalgia for your old life. It’s okay to not fight that. The best way to cure said nostalgia or homesickness is old TV from your previous home.
Whether you’re following your favorite sports team or keeping up to date with the shows you binge-watched with family and friends, please know there’s nothing stopping you from continuing with this in your new country, as long as you have a decent VPN.
You can even watch Netflix using a VPN if you want. Oftentimes your favorite content from home is geo-blocked, so getting a good VPN is vital to keep you in touch with what you left behind.
Be patient with yourself.
Lastly, be patient with yourself. Expats often feel homesick, alienated, alone. Many have felt the same way as you.
Whether you’re feeling homesick, nostalgic for your previous home, or feel like you’re taking a long time to get adjusted, it’s important to be patient with yourself. It’s not a race. Take every day one step at a time, and know that adjusting to your new home will be worth the wait.
Moving to a new country can be both a fantastic and scary experience, especially if it’s your first time.
But there are ways you can ease your experience, from keeping in touch with friends and family to finding new hobbies. By taking care of yourself and recognizing the feelings of alienation or culture shock, you can ensure your transition into your new country is successful.
That way you can create a brand new life, rich and fulfilling, as an expat.
Jack Walker is a cybersecurity expert with years of experience under his belt at TechWarn, a trusted digital agency to world-class cybersecurity companies.