Tuesday, 9 June 2015

4 Expat Mottos to Live By

Expats have a lot to remember. Is it polite to be early or late to dinner? How do I move money back home? What’s a fair price for bread? Or what’s the right way to greet my new boss at work? In their first year of life abroad the average expat might relearn years of cultural assumptions, map out a whole new city or devise a range of handy mnemonics to remember new names. 

The expat brain is a mass of shortcuts and tricks to get by in unfamiliar surroundings, but when all else fails, sometimes it helps to have a little inspiration from someone else who’s been there and done that.  A handy mantra or motto to keep in mind when times are a bit more challenging can really help - especially in those early months in a new home. Looking at all of the tips and tricks you’ve shared with us on our Hints & Tips page, we’ve pulled out some of our favourite expat mottos to live by. Which one speaks to you the most? 

 An expat from New Zealand living in the UK

Many expats don’t know what they will miss till it’s gone – perhaps you’re a Mediterranean expat mourning the loss of your afternoon siesta or a German pining after sauerkraut. It’s easy to focus on the things you miss but when in doubt keep positive, embrace the new – and learn where to go, who to see or what to eat when you’re in the mood to reminisce.  

A Mexican Expat living in the USA

For expats, it’s fair to say that ignorance is certainly not bliss. Being the bumbling foreigner can mean that people cut you a lot of slack in those first few months but to make friends and really get under the skin of your new home picking up the local culture and etiquette is a must. Your new Turkish friends could be over the moon when you’re able to recount the history of Attaturk, whilst your new American friends might light up at your stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner – break a leg!

An American expat living in Ireland

Research. Research. Research. That’s our advice for newbie expats, but what we can’t tell you is what will go wrong. Heed these wise words and always presume something will go awry. Meeting your first local friend for dinner in Beijing? Assume you take a wrong connection on the subway and build in an extra 30 minutes to get back on the right track! 
A Romanian expat living in Vietnam

So, you’ve read up on local business etiquette and practiced your accent - it’s finally time to meet your new colleagues. For most expats this is a nerve-racking experience at the best of times, but what if you get something wrong? Perhaps you use a 15 degree bow when a 30 degree bow would have been more appropriate or you arrived early for a meeting when it’s actually more polite to be late. Don’t let it get you down. Read up as much as you can, but ultimately there’s some value in taking this as your motto and learning one very important skill – bounceback-ability!

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