Moving abroad and starting a new life abroad is possibly the hardest thing you can do, however it will undoubtedly shape you as a person, help you to become more individual while it will also help you break from that repetitive lifestyle. We always hear of how people just picked up their bag and flew out to Australia for pastures new, but we don’t always hear about all the planning that actually took place. Therefore, there isn’t always a huge amount of information easy to find if you do decide to go down this path.
I have tried to list my main tips for a new life abroad, so I hope you find this useful.
Saving money & finances
Ensure you save up a fair amount of money in case anything goes wrong. Even if you are moving abroad for work, there is always a chance payment might be delayed due to paper work, therefore having enough money for a couple of months expenses is definitely worth it, as a form of parachute payment if something goes wrong.
Make sure you call up your bank to let them know you will be going abroad. If you don’t, your card might be swallowed when you put it in a machine. You should also set up a few cards in case one gets broken or stolen. It is often best to set up a debit card and a credit card, use the debit card for withdrawing money and credit card for buying items. You can also set up a direct debit from your debit card to your credit card so it automatically pays the costs without any interaction required from you. If you do this, it might be worth you setting up online banking to ensure there are no payments you haven’t made put in place.
Setting up online banking in general is incredibly important as it will allow you to keep track of your spending and your available budget. Try to save all your passwords and codes on a couple of notes, however also add some code numbers and words around it which mean nothing, to ensure people can’t guess exactly what your codes are if they found the paper.
This might always seem like the obvious one, but you don’t want to realise you didn’t set this up in time, but you will want your passport to have at least 6 months on it from the moment you fly. If it is on its final year, it might be worth renewing in your own country while it is much easier to arrange. It will then be valid for a good ten years.
Before you head abroad, sign up to Couchsurfing and get to know people in the community. This is a great way to quickly make local friends, while it will also give you an opportunity to try out some things you never considered doing. While visiting Austin, we went along to a couchsurfing meetup (they have these in most areas, either weekly or monthly) and had a few drinks. The friends we made actually picked us up the next day from our hostel and drove us out to a lake, where we all swam, kayaked and relaxed while listening to music. The area is known as Bud Isle and no-one really knows the area except for locals, so it meant we avoided the main tourist traps while managing to see possibly the most beautiful part of Texas.
This can also be incredibly useful for learning a new language as you will find others in similar positions or people interested in language exchanges.
Force yourself to turn up to these events and meetups whenever possible as you can’t turn down an opportunity to socialise when you have just moved abroad. One of the main potential stumbling blocks you will face is dealing with loneliness, as this leads to depression and a feeling of homesick, so if you are forced to socialise then it begins to feel more like a holiday and you can keep that happy holiday atmosphere. Why not try a new dance such as salsa, or maybe go along to a go karting meetup in the local area.
Moving for work
We naturally feel our culture is the right way, as this is what we are used to, therefore when we go abroad we tend to judge others as if they are doing something ‘wrong’ rather than different. This is known as ethnocentrism and is the belief that your culture is superior, which makes it sound very dark, but you will definitely do this from time to time. It is important to relax your barriers when moving abroad and try to keep your mind open to the differences in culture and to embrace the changes so that others accept you in. This is also why it is easier to enter a country with a psychological proximity, as then the differences won’t be so dramatic. For example, someone from France could potentially settle in quite easily into another French speaking country or another western European country, whereas Laos, Uganda or Sri Lanka might be a bit more of a shock to the system.
There is a huge amount of tips I could list in order to stay safe abroad, but the most important tip would be to check the location you are going to on the FCO website (for the UK, or try out the most suitable one for your country).
If you are from the UK and you are moving to Europe, remember to sort out your EHIC card, which stands for European Health Insurance Card. These are free to sort out and are incredibly important for handling medical issues. You can apply for a EHIC card through the NHS.
Remember when visiting a new country the dangers will be very much different back to home. For example, in some countries taxis aren’t something to be concerned about, however in some more poverty strucken areas which deal with tourists regularly, you will have to be more cautious. In regards to dealing with taxis abroad, I would always recommend getting a hotel to call for a taxi, this way you can be sure the taxi driver is an official member of a taxi firm.