Traveling and taking up residency in another country is no doubt exciting. And sometimes when you finally arrive you just want to let loose and have as little structure as possible as you take in everything new around you. After a little time there, though, you may find yourself taking a step back and pondering what you hope to get out of the experience in more concrete terms. In other words, what goals do you have for yourself while there? Now before you ask incredulously, “Goals?! I just want to enjoy myself while traveling,” we get that!

However, many people have a general vision of how they expect their time abroad to go and would be disappointed if certain things didn’t happen while there. And maybe your goal is to simply enjoy yourself and have a uniquely different experience than you’d have back home. Nothing wrong with that, but for those that crave a little more structure, defining and naming some goals can be most helpful.How you set them will likely be dependent on how long your stay is. We’ll break these down and offer some pointers for each duration of stay.

Short-Term/Under Three Months

If it’s a short jaunt based mostly around travel and sight-seeing, you may already have a running list of places you’ll want to hit. Maybe it’s the Louvre or the Great Barrier Reef? Get out a calendar and plot on a map all the places you want to visit while there. Know the top three “must-do’s” and build your time around those during your weekends between busy weeks of work. Then you can have second-tier places and activities that you hope to fit in but would be OK with not seeing if it didn’t work out. Of course, there are now endless internet resources and travel blogs you can peruse prior to the actual trip, as well.

For example, our Founder, Micah Bellieu, went to Japan for a month to work during the week and take 5 hours a day of Japanese conversation classes, but she also wanted to see the south and north of the country. So she booked her lessons during the morning (9am – 1pm), so that she could jump on a plane at 3pm every Friday and return every Sunday evening. She hit up Hiroshima, Hokkaido, and Kyoto, filling every weekend with a new city.

Intermediate/6-12 Month Assignment

This type of stay may involve both work and travel for fun/pleasure. Maybe it’s a temporary work assignment, contract work, or you’re trying your hand at freelancing to see how you do in another country. I knew someone who wanted to take every weekend trip possible when he wasn’t working. For me, that sounded exhausting and I was more interested in exploring the city I was currently in, making a routine for myself and getting to know local friends in a more relaxed way (think coffees, walks and shopping), with the occasional weekend trip sprinkled in. Everyone’s different and there’s no right or wrong so figure out what works best for you. For this length of time, you’ll likely want to strike a balance between leisure and more academic or work pursuits.

Micah actually says to beware of the 6 – 12 month assignment, because you actually lose track of time. Unfortunately that’s what happened to her when she was studying Spanish in Madrid. She felt like she had so much time that she didn’t end up making any Spanish friends, and instead, stuck with her American classmates most of the time. What a waste! She really regrets it, and always makes sure to surround herself with locals when she travels now. She knows that she must be strong and say no to offers from other Americans if she really wants to learn the language and be surrounded in the new culture. It’s hard, but it’s the only way to immerse.

Long-Term/Indefinite Length

When at a new work placement, employment goals will likely come first as you are trying to make a good impression and ensure job security for yourself. Once you establish your credibility there, you can focus on more outside goals. The benefit of an indefinite stay is that you have longer to achieve whatever it is you’re planning to accomplish and can take a more long-term view as you are potentially building a life for yourself in this new locale.

After you’ve completed key projects and hit major deadlines, you can branch out to more personal goals. With that in mind, keep quality of life goals in mind, too. Objectives like staying healthy, not drinking more than twice a week, getting to the gym regularly and sleeping 7 hours a night can be very attainable goals that, incidentally, help you reach the larger goals you have, as well. And lastly, take a flexible approach as these can all shift around based on the priority.

Fluency Corp can help your employees and their families assimilate to their country, city and neighborhood through private English lessons in-home, in-office or wherever is convenient for you. We streamline the language learning process so the success of international relocations is greatly increased. For a free consultation, contact us at getfluent@tangramskysandbox.com or (800) 401-3159. Read success stories at fluencycorp.com/testimonials/.