Monday, 20 April 2015

Essentials for Living Abroad

Finding a cat who will help you pack is essential to the moving process =^..^=
This (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your opinion) is not a deep or profound post about how to deal with homesickness or culture shock or any of the other various issues that often plague expats or those living abroad. Rather, this is a frivolous and lighthearted post based on my experience(s) of living thousands of miles away from my 'home'.

So, whether you are a university student who is going to be spending a semester overseas or you are taking the plunge into the full-fledged expat life, here are a few small pieces of advice that will hopefully make your transition easier:

Buy an eBook Reader:
Whether you buy a kindle, a Nook, or one of the myriad other eBook readers on the market, pick up one of these bad boys before you depart. Even if you aren't a prolific reader. When you are settling into a new place and trying to create a new social circle, you'll most likely spend a fair amount of time on your own. And reading can be an amazing way to fill your time...but if you live somewhere that doesn't have books in your native language, you might be out of luck. And, in my experience, even if you can find a place that sells books in your mother tongue, they may be exorbitantly priced. Thanks to the beauty of modern technology, however, you can get around this problem by downloading an eBook literally at the click of a button.

Download What's App and/or Viber; Become best friends with Skype:
What's App and Viber are both free apps that will let you text your friends and family, no matter where you--or they--are located, as long as you have access to 3G or wifi. Being able to text with my friends throughout the day helps mitigate the FOMO that I often feel, especially when I know my friends are all able to see each other on a weekly--if not daily--basis.

By now, most everyone is familiar with Skype but in case you aren't, it is also free and will let you message/call/video chat with anyone who also has a Skype account. If your internet is shaky (which mine often is) Skyping can sometimes be frustrating, but it's worth it for those moments when the connection is good and I can spend hours catching up with my mum!

Do Your Best to Find Out What You Will or Won't Be Able to Buy in Your New Home:
The beauty of google is that you might be able to find out much of this information with a simple search. Obviously, if you are moving to a developed country (e.g., anywhere in Western Europe, Australia, Canada, etc.) you will most likely be able to buy everything you want and more. But if you're heading to the developing world, you might want to check what will be available and pack accordingly. For instance, I never even thought about whether or not I would be able to buy coffee and a French Press where I am living now. But even though I live in a 'coffee culture' where everyone drinks at least 4 macchiatos a day, coffee is always consumed in a café with friends. So I struggled to find either of those two items and had to resort to having a friend who was coming to visit me bring them. It's the little things, you know?

Even If You Don't Use Facebook, Join FB for the Groups
Even if you are hugely averse to facebook, in my experience it is one of the best ways to find information about where you've moved to. Whether the groups you join are populated by locals or other expats, they are often an unparalleled source of information, whether it is on the best restaurants to try, what events are taking place at the weekend, or the cheapest way to reach Timbuktu by bus. You don't need to become an awkward facebook oversharer--just join the groups and utilize the info accordingly.

Download a VPN
Now, as a lawyer, I would never recommend you do anything such as download a VPN to stream content that would otherwise be blocked in your given locale.....but if nothing else but a binge-watching session on Netflix will do, a VPN will be your best friend. I'm no expert (although *cough* a friend would recommend using TunnelBear) but a quick google search of reputable/reliable VPNs will get you set.

Buy Plug Adapters and Converters Before You Leave
"Oh, it's fine. I'll just pick some up when I get there." Famous last words as your laptop and iphone battery are rapidly depleting. Picking up socket adapters (these change the shape of the plug) and/or converters (these change the voltage) before you leave will save you lots of hassle. You'll land knowing that you have ways to plug in your electronic devices and thus retain contact with the outside world. And you won't have to wander through the streets of a new city in search of adapters.

Now, this last one is primarily for those who are moving from a developed country to a developing one:

Stop Complaining and Don't Constantly Compare Your New Country to Your Old One
There is little that irks me as much as this. Of course we all get homesick and grumpy when in a new place, especially after the tenth power cut in 3 weeks. But those of us who make an active choice to move to a foreign country need to mainly just suck it up in those moments. Yes, your new home is not exactly the same as where you were born or grew up. But that's probably why you chose to move there. So, my advice is to appreciate the quirks of your new home and to take advantage of what it has to offer. There must be something that appeals to you or you wouldn't be there (food? a great job opportunity? ability to learn a new language or experience a new culture? cheap travel? beautiful scenery? etc.) Just remember that and enjoy!

What are your top tips for moving to a new country? Let me know below! And head to BloglovinInstagram, and Twitter to follow me (and to get some occasional updates on my expat life)!

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