Moving Abroad: Settling In Abroad
Short-Term Housing & House Hunting
For those that are in short-term housing, remember that there are likely positives and negatives to your situation. Try not to filter out the good or the bad. An honest assessment of what it's like to live there is important.
Those that filter out the good can fall into a negative mindset that will impact more of your international journey than necessary. Don't let a few challenges sour the entire experience!
Those that filter out the bad can sometimes deny that they experience problems and eventually may get overwhelmed. Acknowledge the things that bother you, just don't focus on them too much. You're not going to love every part of the culture to which you've relocated. An honest assessment of your situation will help you craft a routine that focuses on what you like, and avoids what you do not.
If you are living in temporary housing and will be engaged in house hunting, your schedule is probably beyond hectic as you try to balance out the demands of a new job with looking for a home, not to mention all of the responsibilities in other areas of your life. For those that are single, it might not be a picnic, but it's likely to be a lot easier than for those who are married with children.
If you are married, remember that you have to be flexible to make your new life work. If you are working and your spouse is not, don't expect your partner to handle all of the work outside of the office. Many expat spouses undergo a massive amount of stress because they don't have the interpersonal resources needed to settle in that you have on the job every day. Think about it - what would it be like to be home by yourself day in and day out in a foreign country? Talk to your boss or supervisor, if necessary, and help him or her understand that you will need some time to help get your family get settled. Trust us when we say you'll reap benefits down the line if you begin your journey by making your partner feel he or she is supported and not alone in making this transition work.
In terms of the actual leg work in finding your new home in a manner that protects you financially, make sure you have the resources to guarantee that your needs and rights are covered. Advice from someone who has experience navigating the home purchasing process in your adoptive country is critical. Whether it's a relocations professional, another expat, or someone at your new job, take the time to get advice from people in the know.
With CIGNA Global Health Options you can create an international health insurance plan that's perfectly tailored for the needs of you and your family. We provide the reassurance of comprehensive core cover, and the flexibility of adding as many extra benefits as you want to ensure you have a plan perfectly suited to your needs.
Starting Your Expat Kids in School
In our Expat Life Survey, one expat advised the following regarding the transition to an international school:
"Your children will go to school with kids from all over the world. There will be a transition period where they are not too thrilled with you for taking them away from their friends, but as they make new friends and adjust to paying for ketchup at McDonalds, life will return to normal. You will also find that it will take awhile for them to appreciate what a great opportunity they have to learn and how their experiences will help them mature their transistion into adults."
Even if you don't like the McDonald's reference, the respondent makes good points in that the transition will take time and will likely take even longer for your children to appreciate the benefits of livng abroad.
As for life returning "to normal," your kids will eventually settle into a stable pattern of functioning. Understand that this pattern, although stable, won't necessarily work for your children or your family. Recognize that you have to be flexible and be willing to take steps as needed to find something that does work. Be patient, and provide your children with all available resources until the pieces all come together - in class and out!
Read more on this topic in Kelly Robic's article Preparing Your Kids for the Move.
If you have a pet and they have already arrived, remember that they too are going through an adjustment. It is critical that he or she receive as much attention as possible until they are settled into their new environment. If you have a dog, you should get down on the floor and spend some time with him or her each day. Are you part of a family? Literally assign someone to pay close attention to the dog every day, whether it be a long walk or play time in or around your house.
For more ideas, Check out Kevin O'Brien's article (of http://www.petrelocation.com about helping your pet settle into your new home.
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This Issue Written by Joshua Wood
Joshua Wood joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and 5 Best Places to Live in Spain. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.