A good friend of mine is moving abroad and about to start her own expat life on new shores. I’m so excited for her and the new life she is about to discover; the new experiences, food, language and people she is about to immerse herself in. It’s almost awakens the old adventurer in me. Almost. These days I’m far happier to stay home and live my expat life vicariously through her.
Seven years of living in Finland as well as 4 year of travelling and working abroad were enough to quell my need for foreign adventure. For now at least. But those several years have given me quite a lot of experience. Which is why, when I was asked to contribute just one tip to the HiFX Expat Tips page where expats from around the world share their tips for living abroad, I struggled to choose just one. So I decided to put my top 5 expat tips in a post of my own.
Top 5 Expat Tips
1. Immerse yourself in your new world
Your new adopted country is a whole new world just waiting to be discovered, get out there and see it. Eat the food, see the sights and meet the people. Walk in the forests, swim in the lakes, climb the mountains and visit the beaches. Get a good feel for the country as a whole if you can, and not just the area you are moving to.
2. Learn the language
Even if you have expats friends that speak your language, even if everyone around you understands your native language, learn the language of the country you have chosen to live in. It will open up so much more of the country and the people to you.
3. Embrace the weird
Every country has its oddities, some more than others perhaps but they all have them. Rather than backing away from them with a curled lip, give them a try. Try a dish of that awful sounding food that all the locals love, strip off and go for a swim in the lake or a naked sauna party. Embrace the odd, try the weird, open your heart and your mind to your new country and don’t be afraid to look silly.
4. Don’t compare
It’s a trap many expats fall into, comparing and contrasting between back home and the new country and rarely does it lead to anything other than misery. There is no right or wrong way to do things and your new country is just that, a new country. It’s not home and they do things differently. Don’t fight it, go with it. Accept the way things are and for Godsake, don’t be tempted to start doing #5.
5. Stop telling people how you do things back home
Nobody cares. Seriously, they don’t give a rats stinking behind if back home your wardrobes are all walk in or every house has underfloor heating. They don’t care and they sick to the back teeth of hearing about it. It makes you sound as though you consider your way of doing things is superior and better. Many people will begin to wonder just why it is you want to live here rather than moving back home and several may voice this opinion.
Remember the old adage ‘If you haven’t got anything nice to say, it’s best to say nothing at all’ and stop insulting your new country in every other breath.