Whether you’re thinking about working as an expat in Turkey for its rapidly growing financial services industry, Africa for it’s mining opportunities or Thailand for its widespread roles in education, the culture is different, but the general tips for living abroad are similar.
Serial expat Oneika Raymond has a knack for exploring countries all over the world. But beyond her passion for travel, she’s successfully made a career out of teaching in different countries. So who better to give us advice about adapting to expat life? Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for life abroad:
- Try to make local friends and/or learn the language. Immersing yourself in the culture of your adopted home will enrich you so much more than staying on the fringe and only interacting with other expats! Not sure how to meet locals? Online communities like Couchsurfing.com or Meetups.com are a start.
- Take full advantage of opportunities to travel in the region, and be flexible with your dates so you can get cheaper plane, train or bus tickets. I have used Hong Kong as a jumping off point to explore the rest of Asia. You can use weekends and holidays to country or city hop. Also take the time to get to know your neighborhood. Your new home base is ripe for exploring!
- Say yes. Keep your mind and heart open to trying new things (foods, activities, etc.). You only live once!
- Access online resources such as Internations.org and Expatforums.com for information about living the expat life. Facebook also has a number of groups dedicated to expats living in certain countries and all are easily searchable. For the black traveler, Nomadness Travel Tribe is an excellent resource: many members are expats and readily impart tips and tricks for living the expat life. All you need to do is ask. Thankfully, continual advancements in technology have made keeping in touch with friends and family easier as the years go by. I rely heavily on Skype, Facebook, and Whatsapp to maintain relationships with people back home; with the Internet being so widely available, I’m always able to send messages or pictures to them, even when I’m traveling in the remotest of places. The ease and immediacy of communicating means that they are never really that far away.
Do you have any expat survival tips? Share with me in the comments section below.