Whether you’re moving abroad as part of a business assignment or moving overseas in pursuit of adventure, there are a variety of steps that you can take to ensure that your cultural transition is as smooth as possible.
Here are our Top Five steps that you should take, before moving abroad:
1. Start learning the local language
While you may be able to get away with speaking English; you’ll find that it is far easier to network, conduct business and integrate yourself into your local community if you make an effort to speak the local language.
2. Seek out International Colleagues
If you’re being relocated for work, request your company to put you in contact with employees who live in the country that you’re relocating to. Given the opportunity, don’t hesitate to email a contact, and ask for cultural or language advice before your arrival.
If your workplace is unable to put you in contact with a local employee, you may want to search for someone who is interested in a cultural exchange. This will help you to practice your language skills and get a sense of what everyday life is like in your chosen country, and also be able to share your native culture and language in exchange.
3. Research local expat communities
Once you have arrived to your new destination, you will most likely make new friends with the people that you come across along the way. Although, it is advisable to join an expat community as you will receive invaluable advice based on their experiences of local practices or customs that you may be unaware about, saving you from potential cultural problems.
For example, in some cultures it’s not customary to extend a handshake when greeting a business contact, hence it is important to understand the cultural etiquette of your new destination. If you’re relocating on an assignment, you may also find that joining an expat club will introduce you to local professionals who can share valuable tips and tricks.
It’s recommended to visit the Internations website to find friendly expat communities before you make your big move. At present, Internations boasts 2.3 million members and offers expat clubs in 390 cities.
4. Local Organizations and Clubs
Attending events and activities that you enjoy is the best way to network and find local friends. By researching about local organizations and clubs that cater to your hobbies and interests helps to ensure that you are instantly integrated.
If you’re keen about sports you can join a local sports team or a local hiking club. If you’re looking to move to a foreign country with your family, it’s also advisable to search for community based clubs for your children to join. If you have a bit of time up your sleeve, why not send emails to a few clubs ahead of your move? Your local ‘home’ clubs or organizations may even been able to introduce you to their international networks!
5. Research, Research, Research!
Preparation is important before relocating to a new country, and understanding your new culture is one of the most important aspects. Research ahead of time and ensure that you are aware of things such as the local cuisine, festivals, holidays, dress codes, working hours, dominant religions and spiritual beliefs, plus local customs.
You may be interested in visiting Expat Forum which boasts 175,000 international members, and a range of articles and blogs on your new destination that will familiarize you with your new way of life.
So if you’re planning on moving abroad in 2018, it is never too early to start your preparations. There is a range of great resources out there to ensure that your move is successful and that the year ahead is an exciting and memorable adventure.
Want to experience different cultures from the perspective of a native? Start learning the local language now!