They say that change is as good as a holiday; well sure, but to get to your ultimate holiday destination you still have to hit some speedbumps and cross a few bridges! Being part of an expat assignment can be one of the most liberating feeling you will experience; but blowing away the cobwebs of your old life and stepping into a new world is not always easy.
Make sure you have read these 8 tips before stamping that passport!
1. How’s about a hobby
Before you leave, take a moment of self-reflection to figure out what it is you love doing. What are you passionate about, what keeps you busy? Write down your list of hobbies, and those you always promised yourself you would start on soon. Do research to see where there is opportunity in your new, temporary country for you to practise these activities. It will keep you motivated, and help you meet new people too!
2. Rules of the road – use this in an African / Asian context
In a new country, even the simplest things like new road rules will make you feel like a vulnerable stranger. For example, if you are heading off to South Africa, be sure to understand their laws that protect cyclists and pedestrians! Going to Ethiopia? Make sure you know all their crazy intersections to avoid any confusion.
Also make sure that you understand their public transport system and work out the estimated budget you need for transport in your area.
Find out more about expatriate vehicle services to make your transition all the more effortless.
3. Embrace minimalism
Now is the time that you have to start seeing the beauty in simplicity. When you finally settle down in your new country, don’t bombard your home with excessive furniture and décor. Perhaps you don’t stay for as long as you expected, and then you have to get rid of all your belongings, again! Besides, it will be more beneficial for you to spend your money exploring the new country and experiencing the culture at its finest.
4. Easy there with the food
Don’t shock your system by diving into all the local cuisine immediately. It’s good to taste and test, but you have to give your body time to adjust to the new surroundings. So, try stick to your normal diet as much as you can and move over to full on new cuisine over a stretch of time. This will avoid excessive weight loss/gain and sickness.
5. Blaze the trail
Record your secondment progress in a notebook or memo. This will help you organise and prioritise your to-do-list, keep track of your progress and create a little bit of memory to look back onto one day. More so, you can spread advice and stories for people who will be leaving on an expat assignment in the near future too! It’s always pleasant for people to listen to the first hand experiences of someone else; it has a sense of comfort and trust to it. You might as well be the one giving them a helping hand.
6. Banking assistance
If you don’t function as your own financial adviser, you should get concrete guidance on bank accounts, loans and shares in your new country. Even if you feel safe following this process on your own, make sure you still do thorough research on the different banking services there are, and find one what suits your wants and needs the best.
7. Mentally prepare
It’s okay to be nervous, just don’t be afraid. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Spend the month before you leave focusing on recentering yourself. Get into a daily habit of practising deep breaths, closing your eyes and imagining yourself in your new surroundings. Taking up yoga or meditation is a great idea too! It will help you calm down and think every next step through with a fresh mind.