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6 top tips for first-time expats and travelers

Whether you’re moving to a new country, or just traveling to a new city, adapting to your new surroundings can be equally exciting and nerve-wracking. From exploring new places, trying new foods, and meeting new people, there is so much you can do when familiarizing yourself in new surroundings.

Wherever you’re heading, here are some tips to get the most out of exploring a new country.

1. Learn the language

If you’re moving to a country that speaks a language you don’t know, it’s a no-brainer that you pick up the language to help you get around more easily. Even if you’re only visiting for a few days, picking up a few handy phrases can make life a lot easier. From ordering food at a restaurant and giving a taxi driver directions to looking for apartments and meeting new friends.

Sign up for language classes or join a language exchange group to practice the language for free, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes!

2. Break out of the expat bubble

It’s a typical phenomenon to see groups of expats form based on shared languages and culture. It’s possible to both have friends that are expats and have friends that are outside of this expat bubble too. Getting to know the locals will give you a better grasp of the country you’re now living in, and how life is like for people who’ve spent their whole lives there. Get involved in a group activity where you share a common interest, like a sport or maybe a monthly social gathering.

 

3. Brace for a culture shock

No amount of reading ahead will prepare you for the culture shock you’ll encounter when you move to a different country, regardless of whether they speak a different language or not (US vs UK anyone?). Everything from etiquette to slang to national holidays you’ll experience can be a sharp learning curve at the start. A lot of what may seem unthinkable to you, like daytime siestas in Europe and addressing older people more formally in places like Korea, is all normal for the locals. Get accustomed to the culture and the customs and over time you’ll be able to navigate the new country’s culture without much hindrance.

4. Secure your online activity

Moving to a new country means also being more acutely aware of what you can and cannot access while online, not to mention what possible groups are looking to track your activity. Using an unsecured network can put your device at risk of malware and surveillance that can have serious consequences for you depending on where you live.

VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) is one such way of helping you keep your online activity your business only. VPNs are helpful in masking your IP address and stopping hackers and other entities from spying on your personal information and browsing history. Good VPNs can also help you bypass firewalls and filters, giving you open and secure access to the internet.

5. Stay in touch with folks back home

Moving to a new country can be rough at first, and sometimes it helps to keep in touch with people closest to you during those times. Using Facetime, or email to stay in touch with your nearest and dearest can make the culture shock and language barrier easier to deal with. A VPN can also help you here, as it will give you access to your favorite social media networks and online entertainment too.

6. Get settled in as soon as you can

With a permanent move, you’ll want to start framing your perspective towards making this place your new home. Opening yourself up to a new environment can be hard at first, but getting to grips with living in a new country is paramount in making the move easier for you. Find a flat, unpack as early as you can, and start making a home for yourself. The better the base you have to return to, the easier the rest of the move will be for you.

Moving to a new country marks the start of an exciting new chapter for you. Follow these tips and hopefully, they’ll help your new start be a happy, smart, and safe one.

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