Relocating for a new job in a new country with a new language to master – it’s not for the faint of heart! But for those with an enterprising spirit and a flair for adventure, the move can be life-changing and enriching. One of our goals at Fluency Corp is to help facilitate the successful relocations of those moving countries to take on a new job and possibly new language. But, productive transitions usually hinge on many factors, the first being the expat’s own expectations.
Well wishers may gush, “How exciting! You’re going to love Spain!” However, the reality may feel quite different for the expat as they cope with all the inevitable and often discombobulating changes. They may wonder if there is something wrong with them if they’re not loving the experience more when it finally comes. So, it’s best to approach the move with a tempered, realistic view. Try to hold a hopeful anticipation balanced with the understanding that life in a new country, is just that – life, with its usual frustrations and challenges. By having a grip on those challenges – and going in with eyes wide open – you’re more likely to succeed. Knowing more or less what you’re going to face will help you manage your expectations of the location, the culture, the language, the school systems, and how things work in your new home.
Here are a few key ways to start your burgeoning cultural and professional journey off on the right foot.
Brainstorm Questions and Concerns
Take 15 minutes and do a brain dump of all the things you’re wondering about. Cost of food? Public transportation? Vacation spots? No question is too small. Get it down in black and white so you can see more clearly what is preoccupying your thoughts. As more questions come up, put them in your phone so you don’t forget.
Connect with a Native
Get in touch with someone from your new country and ask them the pressing concerns from your list. Inquire about daily, practical processes like how plumbing and trash work, where the good neighborhoods are (and for an explanation of what is good to them – everyone has different definitions of acceptable), monthly home costs, best internet signal, who to call for housing issues, typical grocery store hours and where they buy various household goods. It’s also good to ask them if there’s anything you’ve forgotten to ask. They will usually offer valuable insight you wouldn’t have gleaned otherwise.
Utilize the Internet
Read blogs beforehand to mitigate unnecessary surprises. When I moved to Mexico, I quickly realized there were many things I took for granted! I learned the hard way, so I don’t want you to be surprised when your plumbing doesn’t work and it takes three days to get someone to come fix it. If you’re moving to Mexico as an expat, or any country, Google blogs written by other expats about that specific region. Reading a blog on the country is okay, but you really need to read a blog about the region you’re going to, as every city, town and state will have different cultures. Think New York City and Lafayette, Louisiana – quite different ways of living!
Try to find a blog by someone that is coming from your part of the world and moving to where you’re moving. If you’re from the USA and moving to Japan, and you read a blog by someone that moved from The Philippines to Japan, it won’t be as accurate, and therefore, you might not be prepared after reading that particular blog.
Speak to Another Expat
Speak to another expat who moved to where you’re going so you have less surprises. Internations.org and other expat websites will help you connect to others who have moved. We suggest speaking with 3-5 individuals or families that have moved to get a good perspective. If you only speak to one person or family, you could get a dream story or a horror story, which would leave you terrified or over-excited and later disappointed. So it’s best to get a few opinions, take notes, talk with your significant other and family about it, if you’re not moving alone, and mentally prepare for many differences.
Your journey is bound to be a dynamic one – peppered with both curveballs and unexpected joys. Set yourself up for success by doing the footwork above. Rest assured, a different language might be a part of your journey, so be sure to request language training (at least 200 hours for basic speaking skills) as a part of your relocation package. Questions about 2nd language acquisition? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 800-401-3159.