How to Make the Most of Your Time Living Abroad
With today’s abundant and affordable transit options, as well as reliable digital connectivity, more and more people are choosing to move abroad. No longer afraid of being isolated from family and friends back home, expats are setting off to lands unknown in an effort to both educate and entertain themselves. But while living in another country can offer limitless opportunity, it’s not a given that it actually will. Here’s how to make the most of your time living abroad:
Know Your Rights
You need permission to live in a country that’s not your own. This often means you’ll have to apply for and receive a visa of some sort. There are many different kinds of visas: student, work, investment and more! To maximize your time living in another country, then, it’s important that you understand the type of visa you need and then respect and abide by its restrictions for as long as you use it. A firm grasp of your rights and responsibilities enables you to have clear expectations, freeing you up to more fully enjoy your time abroad. If you are not sure of how to make an international move, consult an immigration specialist (such as an EB-1 lawyer or one specializing in any other visa type). He or she can help you understand and navigate the immigration requirements for the country in which you’re seeking to relocate.
Learn the Language
Language is one of the defining characteristics of a community. It permeates the ways in which members of a society express their thoughts and beliefs, both bringing them together and offering them a sense of belonging. In order to fully integrate into a new country, you need to know how to speak to its inhabitants. Take some classes. Study on your own. Use a language learning app such as Duolingo. Even if you never become fluent, your effort will impress natives and serve to bring you further into the fold, thus enabling you to experience a more robust level of integration and trust.
Make Local Friends
It might be tempting to seek out other expats while living abroad. Of course, it’s easier at first to find people who speak your language and share your culture, so, by all means, start there if you can. But also strive for opportunities to meet native people. Having local friends will not only help you navigate and better understand the nuances of your new home, it will help anchor you to the local community.
Living in a new place can be scary; living in a new country can be terrifying. Even a simple trip to the grocery store can feel like you’re on the moon with the indecipherable labels, incomprehensible clerks and all the unfamiliar foods and smells. Don’t let fear hold you back from fully embracing your new life abroad, though. Challenge yourself to engage the unknown. Be curious and adventurous. Travel. Eat new foods. Practice the language. Do anything you can to expand your awareness of and appreciation for things that are different. It will only enrich your expat experience!