I am an experienced expat… and here are my helpful expat tips! I’m a good expat… I think. Is there such a thing? Maybe! Perhaps the transition becomes easier when you’re aware of the struggles you might face? I just know that each time I live in a new country it becomes easier and easier!
Now, I’m not talking about travelling through countries, I’m talking about taking up residency in a country for a long length of time. I always think obtaining a bank account in another country would make you an official expat. Passing through doesn’t really mean an expat, in my opinion, you’re more of a traveller (which is also great – keep doing that shizz!) and not really who this post is catered to.
South Korea is the fourth country I’ve lived in besides my home country of South Africa. I feel like I’ve had a good mix so far:
London – An English speaking country (for the most part!) and I think the perfect choice for your first country abroad because there is no language barrier and minimum wage can somewhat get you by, so the stress of securing a ‘good’ job can be relaxed slightly.
Dubai – Somewhat of a culture clash living in an Arabic country but the majority of the residents in Dubai are expats.
Thailand – Whoooaaaa language barrier! My first real taste of living in a third world country that doesn’t speak my language. I will always have a place in my heart for Thailand because it changed me into the person I am today.
And now, South Korea, where 97% of the population are Koreans. Yoh, if I wasn’t a vast minority in South Africa, I definitely am now!
Helpful Expat Tips
Get into a routine – like you do at home!
We’re such weird things, us humans, we assume that when we’re in another country – we can’t get into a routine. We can’t join a gym or yoga studio because it’s not home. You’ve decided to live here so… live.
Find your happy spots and visit them frequently
It can be something as simple as a coffee shop or a small park close to your house; find a spot that brings you joy and whenever you’re feeling down – snuggle into that spot!
Keep in touch with your loved ones
Sometimes we feel like if we distance ourselves it will make things easier, but I’ve never seen a positive come out of creating a void! Unless it’s a fuckboy… then void that shit to fucking Pluto.
Learn the language (or a language)
Liz Gilbert, anyone? I always relate to that bathtub scene (in the film) of her learning Italian after her divorce. Whenever I feel down or lonely, I look up another spot on my bucket list and YouTube the language to soothe my little heart. If you’re in a country that doesn’t speak your language, give yourself a goal of learning two words a week!
This is also my public declaration that I need to get better at learning Korean! Just did a count and I’m on six words! Whoops. Bad Lamb.
Make friends and get your ass into a social mindset
I can’t imagine how hard this is for introverts and when I see an introvert making an effort I want to squeeze them with love. It’s not easy making friends as adults because we’re already set in our ways. When we’re in school we’re forced to socialize for 8 hours a day and all our personalities kind of mesh into one. As adults, we know who we can and cannot hang out with and that makes the search somewhat more difficult – doesn’t mean you can’t try though!
There were no such things as Facebook groups for expats and apps to connect with each other. We had to do the awkward walk up in a restaurant kind of thing and I will always spare a thought to men who were made to approach women first all these years! It’s not easy. Aren’t you lucky us women are becoming more forward?
Make use of the apps and groups – get in touch with other expats and meet up!
Make up a bucket list for the duration of your stay
Most of the time, expats stay for one or two years and my advice is to make a bucket list for your time in that country. Make a list of all the places you want to see and all the things you want to do and plan it out! Stick it on your fridge so every time you’re feeling down you can check it out and feel a surge of happiness!
I know moving to another country isn’t easy, but none suffer alone if they reach for help! Here’s your olive branch… you’re welcome!