Living in a foreign country can be an intimidating experience.
As an expat, you can expect to face a lot of challenges when you move. Expatriates need to learn cultural nuances, customs, mannerisms, and expectations. As an outsider in a foreign land, these things can be difficult to understand.
Depending on your personality and situation, it can take a while to get settled into your new job. Don’t worry, with so many changes at once, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. And remember, you’re not facing these struggles alone.
We’ve put together a list of the most common problems faced by expatriates to show you that you’re not going through any of these hardships alone. How many of these have you experienced?
Related: What is an Expatriate?
Expat Problem #1: You’re Having a Hard Time Fitting In
Learning a new language can be difficult, learning the ins and outs of a new culture can be even more challenging. Every country has its own customs and nuances. No matter where you are, it’s important to respect the local culture.
If you haven’t actually made the move yet, research the customs before you go. It’s important to have a basic understanding of the cultural norms before you arrive.
If you’re transitioning to a new office, ask your boss if there is anything specific you should do to prepare for your new role. It will be easier to transition into a new job if you have an idea of what to expect.
Once you have arrived, try to connect with other expats. They can be a great source of information. Other expats can help you navigate the landscape and provide cultural insight.
If your company employs other expats, ask them for advice so you can learn from their experiences.
Expatriate Problem #2: You’re Struggling With the Language Barrier
Unless you’re fluent in the language before you move, you can expect the language barrier to be a challenge. You’ll need to learn the language if you want to fit in.
Download a language app, enroll in a class, or practice by speaking to coworkers and friends. The more you use the language in your daily life, the easier it will be to learn. Repetition is key to learning a new language quickly and efficiently.
Expat Problem #3: You’re Worried about Housing
Navigating your way through a housing market in an unfamiliar city can be difficult. Ask your coworkers for any advice they may have and seek out resources to help you through the process.
Even though you may want to buy a home, it’s usually better to rent until you’ve figured out a solid plan.
Expatriate Problem #4: You’re Worried about Money Management
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It can seem overwhelming to figure out the details, so do as much research as you can before you move. If you move to your new home with an understanding of how it will affect you financially, it will be easier to adjust once you’re there.
Expat Problem #5: You’re Lonely
Expats have a tendency to be transient. And when you don’t stay in one place long enough to form lasting friendships, it can often feel lonely.
The first few weeks in an unfamiliar location are usually the most challenging. But it can also be one of the most exciting times in life.
When you’re living in a foreign country, it’s essential to form relationships. Look for events and activities that you’re passionate about. Try to bond with people that share a common interest with you. Don’t be afraid to try new things—you just might discover a new passion or hobby in the process.
Research housing, understand your financial responsibilities and look to other expatriates for guidance. Learn the language and explore activities and opportunities as a way to make friends.
Give yourself some time to adjust and assimilate yourself into a new culture. If you embrace your discomfort and face your issues head-on, you’ll have the hang of things in no time.