For many of us, leaving our native country for greener pastures has become the most important decision ever made that dramatically changed our lives for the better. Even though for some moving abroad still seems like a dream, becoming an expat is easier than you might imagine, if you have some basic skills and knowledge about your opportunities. Here are some of the tips that helped me during my move abroad.
- Get a college degree if you don't have one yet. Education is one of the most important things an employer abroad looks at while examining your resume. Granted, not all degrees have the same weight so a degree from a top university would be a great bonus when applying for jobs. A master's is even better and it opens your opportunities even more – you can apply to study one year abroad with various scholarships and learn the language in that country.
- Research, research, research. The best way to get a proper experience of the country you're aiming for is to read whatever you can about it. Try to learn the language, investigate the culture and start early on research visas. Visas and taxes can be one of the most stressful things for expats so the sooner you dive into the issue, the better. Furthermore, be upfront with potential employers and state your visa status clearly. Don't lead someone on with false promises if you're serious about changing your life.
- Be prepared for the change. One of the most challenging things about going expat isn't necessarily the actual move, house hunting or visa formalities. Culture shock is a big issue most of newbie expats deal with when changing countries, even when making the move from the US to the UK. Culture shock is a process that affects people from all walks of like differently, being characterized by homesickness, boredom or hostility towards the new culture. Culture shock can behave differently for each one of us so make sure you deal with these issues when the novelty of your new place wears off.
- Socialize & network. Staying in touch with your loved ones or making new friends is one of the key aspects of getting into or getting used to a new country. Make an effort not to loose touch with the people you left back home, you won't find a replacement for family or friends you've known most of your life. Also, try to meet new people and socialize as often as possible – they will be your guides in the new world, will offer you valuable information or practical advice.
- Give up most of the things you own. You know that feeling of liberation when you move into a new apartment and you get rid of old junk you were holding onto? Imagine this feeling multiplied when you see you can fit your entire life into a big suitcase. Sell all the things you own and no longer need and stick to the basics – the sooner you do this, the better. You'll save a lot by buying things you need from the adoptive country rather than moving them overseas.
Now it's your turn. What are some of the tips and tricks you've found useful in your move?