Moving abroad is a major commitment. An even bigger commitment, however, is made once you arrive in your new home. When you finally decide to embrace your life as an expat. Only then will you truly benefit from this life changing experience.
There are no more check lists, no time requirements, and gone is the immediate sense of accomplishment that you experienced during the preparation process. The next stage of moving to another country is more of an internal commitment.
It’s making the decision to start a new life for yourself, a life different than the one you had before.
Accepting, embracing and learning.
And it’s no one’s responsibility but your own.
So ask yourself one question:
Am I creating a life for myself here or am I simply going through the motions and living the same life that I left behind?
You can live somewhere for months, even years, and still neglect to tackle this vital task. One day, you’ll wake up and realize that physically moving abroad is half the battle. Now it’s time to be a part of it all.
Learn the Language.
Invest at least two hours a day in learning your new language. And practice it! Learning the native language means everything. It can be the one thing holding you back from succeeding abroad – both personally and professionally.
By not learning the language, it shows a lack of investment. And plus, the locals shouldn’t be adjusting to get to know you, you should be adjusting to get to know them. Make this a priority and you will immediately be more comfortable.
Adjust your routine.
This can be the physical time of day or just your weekly schedule. For example, if there’s a time difference and you’re still communicating with people back home, you may unintentionally be operating on a schedule that is not consistent to where you are living.
The same is true for weekly/daily routines. If most people take 2 hour breaks in the middle of the work day, take a break too. If Sundays are quiet, embrace the quiet and use the day to relax.
Here in Austria, everything is closed on Sundays, so instead of using Sundays to run errands like we did back in the USA, we now take long walks, get lost on our scooter or enjoy a leisurely meal in the middle of the day with friends.
That brings me to my next point…
Put yourself out there and meet new people! Join expat communities. Get to know the locals. If you’re invited to your neighbor’s for dinner – GO! A huge part of you will want to stay home where everything is familiar, but fight that urge.
When you start creating a list of people to call on a Friday night, your foreign home will feel that much closer to your true home. Plus, making new friends of different cultures and backgrounds is a major learning experience and so rewarding!
Find out what YOU love to eat. Food is a huge adjustment when you relocate to another country.
In the USA we had an incredible variety of everything, but Austria is another story. Spending time in the grocery store to find our new go-to dishes was instrumental in adapting to our life here.
Meals look different now, but we are slowly finding comfort in what was once foreign. And finding new comfort is key as you settle in – even if it’s comfort in something as simple as food!
Get involved in the Community
Creating consistency in your weekly schedule will help you accept a new routine after moving abroad. Join a club or a local sports team that meets every week. Not only will you meet people, but your week will have structure.
And don’t forget about the community events you can either participate in or attend – festivals, fairs, fundraisers! They’re not only fun, but they’ll help you appreciate where you’re living, accept your surroundings, and understand that this is your home now.
Turn your home into a home
Add personal touches to your new house or apartment that truly make it feel like home. If you can walk in the door after a long day and feel a sense a relief, then you’ve done a good job.
The sooner you can feel this sense of relief, the sooner your true life abroad will begin. Even if your apartment is already furnished, little inexpensive touches are what make the difference. Pictures of friends and family, little knickknacks or decorations. Give it some personality!
Discover new things
Get adventurous! Try new activities. Eat new foods. If you don’t embrace what the locals embrace, than how will you know what you are missing out on? Leave what you know behind and explore the new. You already made that decision when you moved abroad in the first place, so follow through and incorporate that same mentality into your everyday routine.
Creating a new life for yourself after moving abroad is a difficult task to conquer. And this time, there’s no list of to-dos. It’s a decision that comes from within…
Start with these ideas, and soon you’ll feel that sense of comfort you’ve been longing for.
What once was foreign will become familiar. And that place where you happen to store your furniture will now be a home.