Are you an expat newbie? Feeling overwhelmed by so much new information, not to mention the logistics of settling in? Once you’ve got the basics in order, i.e. a place to live, what to do next? Here are a few top tips to get you started.
Tip # 1: Take a deep dive in.
By this I mean, dive deeply into the experience of being an expat, rather than skimming the surface. Take the time to really get to know a handful of people, both locals and other expats. Plan an excursion at least once a week that will take you someplace you might not otherwise have gone.
See how much you can learn about the local culture. Explore the language if it’s different from your own. Sometimes just learning a few phrases and using them can make a huge difference in your daily experience.
Tip # 2: Find where your passion lies.
Spend some time reflecting on what touches your heart and gives you joy. This is clearly different for everyone. For some it might be helping children, for others it might be a creative outlet like painting or playing music, or playing tennis.
As you reflect on this, try not to sensor yourself. Whatever strikes your fancy, strikes your fancy.
Then start talking to people about where you might go to learn more, or just to be around others who share your passion. There’s nothing like bonding over a shared passion to ignite a lifelong friendship!
Tip # 3: Greet fear as you would an old friend.
As I see it, fear exists to show that you’re coming up to an edge; a boundary you may not have crossed before. Everyone feels fear. It’s a universal human emotion. You then have a choice to make about whether you will let fear stop you or not.
For a new expat, there are so many new situations, that fear is bound to arise at some point. Maybe it’s a fear of entering a room where you don’t know anyone and feel self-conscious. For some it’s a fear of appearing stupid because you don’t know the language. Or perhaps you have a fear of unknowingly saying something offensive because you don’t know the cultural norms.
Whatever the trigger, greet fear as you would an old friend. Say to yourself, “Oh, it’s you, fear. I know you. You can be there if you like for a while, but I won’t let you stop me from having this experience. You don’t have to believe the line your fear is feeding you. It’s typically a negative belief that you can hold up to to the light, to see what is actually true.
By choosing to follow the truth instead of the fear you’ll be on your way toward leading the life of your dreams while living abroad.