So you’ve done it! You’ve picked up and moved to an entirely new country. But what happens next? How do you begin your new life abroad? How do you get over moments of doubts and confusion to truly enjoy what you’ve accomplished?
As you saw in our preparation countdown, until take-off, you will constantly be on the move. It can feel like an endless process, but it is 100% achievable! And when you land in your new home, because of all the work you’ve done to get there, the rest should be smooth sailing, right?! Wrong.
HEY – don’t let this news burst your “I just moved abroad!” bubble. You should constantly be celebrating what you’ve accomplished. It is incredible and will certainly change your life for the better. But being informed and staying realistic about the first month abroad is important in this process. Those first 30 days will be full of adjustments, successes and failures, moments of pure excitement and of frustration.
We know this because one month ago we picked up and moved from the USA to Austria. And after a month adapting to our new home, we’ve put together a list of how you can make your first month living abroad a success!
1. Take a second to celebrate what you’ve accomplished.
Before you do anything, take some time to reflect on all the hard work you’ve done. Few have the courage to move to another country, and even fewer follow through and make it their reality. For the first time, after all the running around, you can finally sit back and relax. So do it! Enjoy the peace and quiet while you can and use that peace and quiet to celebrate your achievements.
2. Don’t feel rushed to do everything right away.
Your first instinct when you arrive in your new home will be to experience EVERYTHING! It will all be so new and exciting that you’ll almost feel guilty for relaxing or using the week to set up your apartment instead of sightseeing. The key in your first month abroad is to slow yourself down! This isn’t a quick vacation with limited time to see and do everything. This is your home now, so treat it like the permanent situation that it is. Hold off going on your first big trip until you are settled, comfortable and in a steady routine.
3. Engage with locals.
When you move somewhere unfamiliar, it’s easy to unintentionally isolate yourself, simply because it feels more comfortable. This is especially true when you move to a country where you aren’t fluent in the native language. It’s scary to put yourself out there and feel like the ‘foreigner’ that you are. And although it will be awkward at first, interacting with the locals and immersing yourself in their culture is extremely important throughout this process.
The more you engage with others, the quicker you’ll feel at home. Plus, you didn’t move abroad to be stuck in your ways and only experience what you know, did you? Of course not!
4. Appreciate the everyday things.
With all the major adjustments, the most rewarding moments abroad will take place during your regular day to day activities. When you’ve completed your first grocery trip and then cooked your first authentic dinner – be proud! When you’re finally settled into a new apartment that you’ve furnished and decorated yourself – major victory dance! Appreciating these ‘minor’ achievements will save you from feeling helpless and confused, and amongst all the chaos, you’ll feel accomplished and productive.
5. Invest what you need to be comfortable.
Moving to another country is no cheap process. You will constantly be whipping out your wallet and STILL have a list of things you need to purchase. All the spending becomes very overwhelming, but the right spending can determine your success. Invest in the things that will make you feel comfortable and at home (within reason of course). Whether it’s getting the best internet right away, so you can stay in touch with family and friends or spending a little more on your mattress so you can end each day with a good night’s sleep, these investments will determine your happiness. And your happiness is the most important thing!
6. Find a local spot.
When you’re having a rough day or feeling homesick, sometimes sitting in your apartment doesn’t help. You need to get out, but where do you go? For this reason, it is beyond important to identity a local spot where you can escape your mind. Even if it’s just a park or a little café up the street, identifying a place in your neighborhood that makes you feel comfortable and at peace is important! Without it, you’ll find yourself anxiously pacing around the house overthinking how you feel that day. But with it, you’ll be able to instantly change the scenery and your mindset!
7. Learn the transportation.
How can you thoroughly enjoy where you live if you don’t know how to get around? Taking a few days to explore the transportation options around you is vital! Ride the bus, take the train, test out the taxis. Not only will it help you discover your surroundings, it will also help you decide if you need to invest in a car or a scooter. After all, if you can’t explore where you live, what’s the point of living there?
8. Be a tourist in your town.
That’s right! Just because you’re now a ‘local’, doesn’t mean you can’t explore where you live as a tourist. Not only will it teach you about your new home, it will also make you realize how lucky you are to be living there! When you see others traveling from all over the world to experience where you live, the excitement and enthusiasm is contagious. So whether you give in to a walking tour or decide to drive around the city on a Segway, just do it! And enjoy every second!
9. Plan exciting things for the future.
The perfect way to get over any frustrations or feelings of doubt is to have something to look forward to in the future. So, what are you waiting for?! Invest in a big map and wall calendar and plan away! Take a look at what’s around you, research, and start scheduling excursions for Months 2 and 3. Instantly, you will forget what you are missing out on at home and begin focusing on all the exciting travel opportunities available to you now!
10. Decorate with a purpose.
Now this may seem simple, but the results are pretty much guaranteed. Forget the artwork – decorate your home with a purpose! Purchase at least 2 giant white boards and use them to record your to-dos, schedules, and thoughts. Display them in the kitchen or in the living room. It will help you stay organized, especially if you are looking at them and updating them every day. Having everything out of your mind and onto a whiteboard is a huge relief. And the rest of your wall space? Use it as a place for continued inspiration – quotes, family pictures, anything that will keep you happy and motivated throughout this journey.
So there you have it! The tips and tricks to make your first month abroad a success. If you follow these guidelines, you will be sure to enjoy your new home to the fullest. Just know that the rollercoaster of emotions is unavoidable, but you will get through it all, and in the end, you will be a better person for it.