Following on from last week's post - "24 Things to consider BEFORE moving to a foreign country". The below 12 points may prove helpful once you have moved to your new country.
- Navigating the language barriers: Living in a non-English speaking country can be frustrating and lonely but it does not have to be. The obvious solution is to learn the language. But if this is too big a task or you are only living in that country for a short period then there are other options. In order to get the basics done e.g. paying your rent/bills, shopping etc, then a good translator app can help you immensely. Another option is to make friends with the locals who are bilingual and can guide you with some basics. These same friends will also prove to be wonderful coffee partners and a way to learn more about the country, culture and traditions. If you want to meet more expats whose native language is English, then join a few expat communities or other options in your area.
- Coping with climate: The new climate may seriously whack your immune system so take extra care here - make sure that you eat, exercise and sleep well. Exposure to variations in heat and cold (air con) may bring bouts of colds and flu. Keep basic medicine in the cupboard so that you are prepared. In time your body will adjust to the changes.
- Adjusting sleep patterns: Due to the new time zone/jet lag/surroundings/work schedule/home location, it may take some time to find your new sleep pattern. Be patient with yourself. Try to make your environment as dark, quiet and peaceful as possible. Buy a black out sleep mask and comfortable ear plugs to assist, if need be. Implement white noise options whether through using a fan or phone apps especially when living in a busy city. There are many herbal aids and teas on the market which can also assist. It is vital that you get sufficient sleep so that you can function properly. A lack of sleep can affect your health, concentration, weight, relationships, work and your overall day.
- Who thought air quality was that important ?: If you have moved to a location with poor air quality, this can potentially lead to lung issues as well as skin problems. Be prepared for these possibilities if you already suffer from asthma and/or eczema in your own country. These health concerns will need to be managed very carefully with creams, medication and teas, else a trip to the Doctor.
- Eating to suit your body: Whilst it is wonderful to experience the new and exciting culinary delights, always bear in mind that your body may still need additional vitamins and hydration. It is important to consume fresh fruit, vegetables and water to keep your immune system strong and your body functioning correctly. Make sure that the tap water is safe to drink beforehand.
- Don't clash with culture: Enjoy learning about the cultures and traditions in your new area. Be open minded, patient and flexible. Living in a different country (whether temporarily or permanently) is a privilege. The opportunity to see how others live and work should always be viewed as a opportunity, and thus never taken for granted. If you are one of only a few foreigners living in your area, the locals may fear you or just be curious of you. Be kind and smile, even if you don't understand what they are saying.
- Orientate yourself quickly: A good way to settle in quickly is to walk your immediate neighbourhood so you can find your favourite supermarkets, hairdresser, beauty salon, pharmacies, stationery shop, post office, coffee shops, movie houses, pizza places, subway, retail shops etc. It becomes like a welcoming pair of slippers if you quickly learn what you can depend on in your own area.
- It's ok to be sentimental: When you are packing to move to your new country, pack in something small that reminds you of home. This can be an ornament your Mum gave you or a pretty set of pillow slips. When you move into your new place, it will immediately feel homely with little pieces from home dotted around.
- Prepare for less stress: When packing to move, pop in some extra sets of contact lenses, medication, etc so that you don't need to rush out immediately to find more. You want to reduce your stress as much as possible upon your arrival. Pack in whatever clothing you may need immediately - you cannot assume that the new country will have your size for everything.
- Be patient with yourself: It will take time to adjust to your new surroundings and routines, so allow yourself time to feel low and out of place. You will find yourself feeling exhausted at first as everything will be overwhelming. Give yourself a chance to acclimatise.
- Create a budget as soon as possible: When you move to your new country, the new currency and cost of living may be quite confusing and take some time to settle into. As soon as you know your monthly earnings and basic cost of living, create a budget and stick to it. Your basic budget will most likely consist of : rent, electricity, water, cell phone air time, internet costs, transportation (taxi/subway/bicycle), food, entertainment (eating out/movies etc) and savings. If you get paid on the 10th then your budget may go haywire quickly especially if rent, water and electricity all have different due dates. Keep a good record of spending and payment (receipts) so that you can keep on top of everything. Money can easily become a stressful situation.
- Keep organised: Make sure you have all your personal papers organised and neatly packed away. When you move to a new country, there are so many pieces of paper that quickly pile up. Keep everything organised by using labelled folders so documentation can easily be found.
If you have any questions about my life in China, then feel free to leave a comment below.
“The scariest thing about distance is that you don’t know whether they’ll miss you or forget you.” ― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook