The difference between seasoned expats and first timers is often more than just the amount of times that they’ve lived abroad. It’s often the mind-set they adopt in their new location. Whether it is the enthusiasm shown when learning about new customs, the charisma shown when networking or the willingness to practice and be corrected in a new language, an experienced expat’s mind-set is just that little bit different.
Whether you’ve been taught to eat your food using stainless steel cutlery, or been instructed to eat with chopsticks, letting go of cultural norms that have been drummed into you since the day you were born is not easy. As you step off the plane and feel the breeze of a new land brush your past your face, you should prepare yourself for the experience that is to come. One part of this is accepting that life will be different, but that is what makes life as an expat so exciting. Seasoned expats don’t grimace at the thought of burning their tongue on an unexpected spicy local delicacy or cringe at the thought of joining their colleagues at a karaoke bar, they join in. Expert expats are often more worried about missing out on these cultural quirks as they make for the most interesting stories.
The chance to live and work abroad is a truly amazing occasion. You’ll get the opportunity to have new and varied experiences, meet new people and maybe even migrate to a better climate. With that said it is not a holiday and for that reason requires a lot more preparation. Many veteran expats make sure to research costs, find appropriate accommodation and budget wisely. Treat expat life like a marathon, pace yourself properly and the rush of endorphins will carry you to new highs!
When starting from scratch in a brand new place friends are vital. They can help you with settling in and adapting to the new culture. For this reason it is easy to be in a rush to make as many friends as quickly as possible, but it is vital to be patient and loyal to those who help you in the early days. An experienced expat remembers that patience is key when communicating through language barriers and cultural differences. Little things such as the inflection of the voice can mean very different things when communicating in a language that either you or the person you’re talking to is not familiar with.
Whether it’s walking in London, the funicular in Switzerland or a motorcycle in Vietnam, changing up your mode of transport can really do a lot to inform you of what’s is currently available to you and educate you on the country’s rich history. By adopting the local form of transport you become attuned to the rhythm of your new home and gain a greater understanding of the locals and their experiences.
The best way to learn a language is through immersion. Being constantly surrounded by the dialect and people fluent in it allows you to learn much more quickly than any audio book or classroom experience.
How many of these philosophies have you adopted in your approach to expat life and how many additional thoughts do you have to share? Tweet us @expatexplorer with your mantra.