The following post originally appeared in Medium on September 16, 2019.
The decision to move abroad solo or with family takes courage and planning. As a current expat, I took my first courageous step twelve years ago. Today with globalization and internationalization, the steps can be easier, but you still need proper planning and preparation.
I have spent nine years living and working internationally. The knowledge and experience gained during these years have led me to help others create a smoother path for their journey. Aspiring, new and continuing expats all have different needs, but planning and preparation are part of the equation for all. Therefore, professional and personal readiness is key to having a positive and enjoyable expat experience and lifestyle. So, to get started, let me share some key tips with you.
Explore the Globe
Live in a place that provides you with comfort and challenges. Comfort in the sense of safety, improved quality of life and stability in governance. But challenges that will help you grow in terms of language, culture, and daily life experiences. There is at least one country on our planet that will provide the balance you need. As a result of your experiences, you will gain a broader view of the world and humanity.
Prepare Your Loved Ones
Discuss your plans with your family and friends and what’s ahead for them. This may include managing time zones for conversation and missing their important events. Yes, you may not have everyone’s support for your journey, but they could eventually come around. After all, you are now in a place they can visit. Get ready to host and enjoy the shared memories of exploring your location.
Share and Learn at Work
It is great to find, take, or be in a job that fits your expertise. And, yes, this is the main reason you got hired. Whether you work for an organization or you are a freelancer, be prepared to adjust to the work environment. Spend time learning, observing and understanding. You can also learn new perspectives, practices, and ways of managing projects or people. There is value in experiencing different work cultures.
Take Time to Adjust
Spend time planning and preparing for your journey abroad. The more insight you gain about your perspective country or region, the better chance you will have at adapting and managing the culture adjustment. Give yourself permission to miss ‘home’, but then create a new norm for your life in your new location. Explore the place, make new friends, engage in local traditions and give back to the community.
These may sound like common sense, but they are worth the reminder. Many of us get excited about the job, packing and getting there, but we also need to think practically for a moment. These tips are geared to help you do just that. So, keep the excitement, prepare wisely and enjoy your expat journey.