What does a new expat need?
Moving abroad is a stressful experience and acclimatising to a new culture can take some time. Your first few days in a new home can be made that little bit easier if you remember these 10 simple things!
In Britain over 165,000,000 cups of tea are drunk every single day. During stressful times tea really is the liquid that keeps Britons going. When you first arrive in a new country you probably won’t know where you can buy teabags or whether any shops will stock your favourite brand. Taking a little box with you means that you’ll be able to spend your first few days in a foreign country supported by the taste of home.
Street directory/city guide
Unless you’re already very familiar with the area you’ve relocated to, street dictionaries and city guides are invaluable for new expats. If you study the layout of the city and look up public amenities the likelihood of getting lost (and being sent into a panic!) will be significantly reduced. Wandering round your new home with guides might make you feel a bit like a tourist but using them really will make you feel like a local much quicker.
That thing that makes you feel at home
We all have something lying about the house which makes us feel at home – that little object with so many meanings and memories attached to it. It could be anything, from a dog-eared teddy to a book or a jewellery box, an old CD or a photo album. Whatever it is, don’t leave it in storage or ship it with your larger items. If it’s not too big or heavy pack it in your travelling luggage. Bringing that special thing with you can really make a new country feel less foreign.
We live in a technological age and most of the things that keep an expat connected to the people they’ve left behind need a constant power source or have a limited charge. Unfortunately different countries have different plug sockets meaning that electrical products from the UK will be no good to you unless you have the right adaptor! If you want to avoid a media blackout make sure you research what kind of sockets are used in your destination country and buy the relevant adaptors. Keep at least one adaptor in your hand luggage.
A Skype account
In the first few weeks expats often call home a lot (even adapted expats like to maintain regular contact) but frequent international phone calls can be really pricey. Skype is a fantastic, affordable way of keeping in touch with loved ones. With Skype’s video call function you can actually see what’s going on back home and family and friends get to see you in your new world.
No expat should leave home without making sure that they have comprehensive medical insurance. Some people might think it’s a waste of money but no matter how careful you are accidents do happen. If you should get ill or suffer an injury abroad getting treatment can be costly and confusing if you don’t have insurance in place to cover it. Even if you never end up using it having relevant medical insurance will give you the peace of mind you need to really throw yourself into your new life.
A pay-as-you-go phone
Buying a local pay-as-you-go phone on arrival can be really useful. You may find that the mobile you used at home won’t work abroad; this will ensure that you can make and receive calls instantly. It also less hassle than paying a monthly British contract.
Cash cards and internet banking might rule the world at the moment but having some of your new country’s currency in physical form can be really useful. In your first few days of being an expat it can be comforting to know that you have funds which can be accessed instantly.
You will need currency right from the moment you step off the plane in your new country. A pre-paid currency card is ideal!
The right attitude
New expats with the right attitude are far more likely to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and enjoy all the experiences which come with relocation. Confidence, friendliness, curiosity and open-mindedness are essential traits for anyone hoping to have a successful and enjoyable time as an expat. If you’re not naturally confident practise putting yourself out there before you go!
You might never have considered yourself a ‘business card’ type person but they can be so useful for new expats. They don’t take much time to organise or cost very much to buy and are well worth having. When you relocate you’ll be making new personal and business connections all the time and business cards are a handy way of passing on your details quickly and correctly. As you can design them they can be a real reflection of your skills, interests and personality and they look far more impressive to prospective employers than a number scribbled on a napkin!