You are about to embark on what could be the adventure of a lifetime. How are you going to frame this new experience? Perhaps you are like a reporter going out "into the field" for your company, family or friends. Or maybe you are an author doing research for a new adventure novel. Are you going to bring a video camera? Maybe there is a documentary in you just waiting to bust out - it could be about travel, culture, business, science, or anything else that gets you excited.
As a psychotherapist, one of the themes I constantly talk about with my clients is that perception is critical. Some expats view any anxiety about their life abroad as a sign of how exciting their new life is, and thus thrive upon it. Others, however, feel their worry is a tell tale sign that they have made a mistake, and start to panic. How you interpret not only your new environment, but your reactions to it, is critical.
If you went to college, do you remember how open and outgoing most of the freshmen were when you got there? They knew that they were going to need new friends in order to make a successful transition. So will you when you get there! Don't wait - talk about this with your family if they'll be with you.
If you are going to work and your spouse is not, remember that you are going to have colleagues to potentially connect with on a daily basis. Your expat spouse will not have that opportunity, so take the time to help him/her find new friends. Be generous with each other and communicate.
Most importantly, remember that ExpatExchange.com will be there when you arrive! Once you have an internet connection, check in and let everyone know on the country forum that your journey has begun. Remember that you don't need to invent the wheel - get advice as problems arise.
The internet should not be seen as a replacement for real human contact, but it is always helpful to exchange ideas online. Realize that you are not the only one to experience the challenges you'll encounter, and you'll quickly develop the outlook that other people out there have already conquered them and now love their life abroad. Be another one of them!
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