Stay updated with the industry and Bromberg office news
5 things expatriates understand about moving abroadApril 20, 2017
Making the decision to live abroad is not for the faint of heart. Living in a foreign country is exhilarating, but the challenges can be more than a little intimidating. Family stress, culture shock, and the sudden impact of being an ethnic minority makes this a very unique adventure for everyone involved.
As a company that provides relocation services for professionals, students, or anyone else looking to move to a new country (not to mention our many staff members who are immigrants themselves) we’re well aware of the difficulties involved with setting up a new life in another part of the world. That’s why we’ve compiled this short guide to some of the issues you might encounter in your own relocation efforts.
Frozen Bank Accounts
Even if you took the time to notify your bank about your upcoming travels, many times debit cards and checking accounts use complex algorithms to automatically stop purchases that look suspicious. If you’re with a large bank, dealing with their customer service team to restore access to your funds can be beyond frustrating. Because of the large number of business people and Mormon missionaries leaving from the state, community and regional personal banking and checking in Utah has taken specific steps to accommodate oversees account holders.
The Honeymoon Phase
There is an initial euphoria about touching down in a new place. The sights, the sounds, the smells are novel and unique. The people seem so interesting. Expatriates begin to notice the unique ways the locals live and become enamored with their culture. During this phase, you might be driven by a desire to seek out the most ‘authentic’ local experiences -- to get off the beaten path and explore the parts of your new country’s culture that tourists don’t usually see. This can be fun and amusing, but also a bit risky -- particularly if you don’t have many local friends -- as you might get yourself into a dangerous situation without realizing it.
As time wears on, cultural and linguistic missteps that were amusing at first can become humiliating. Your cultural ineptitude might be mistaken for general ineptitude by the people you interact with. Safe-spaces are few and far between. You begin to get a little home sick. You miss the foods that don’t torch your tongue or besiege your belly. The manner in which natives communicate and interact with you could begin to annoy you. You might find yourself becoming critical of cultural trends as the euphoria of the honeymoon phase begins to be replaced by a little bit of ethnocentric thinking and maybe even a little low-key racism. You might feel lost, alone, and irritable several times a day. You’re beginning the stages of culture shock.
But you knew this would be hard, and so you persevere. You make an effort to rediscover the joy of the adventure and for the most part you succeed. You learn how to cling to the things you love most about your new surroundings – a native friend, a breathtaking view, a local dish that you know you will pine for when you go home. You accept the fact that you are an awkward foreigner who isn’t going to blend in perfectly or be totally accepted, and you’re okay with that.
The Language Barrier
Of course this continues to be a challenge. Every time you feel like you achieve a new level of intelligibility, the natives step up the complexity of their accents and speech patterns, and you realize that the only reason you were beginning to understand anything was because they were speaking to you the way they speak to preschoolers. You make embarrassing linguistic blunders, like exclaiming “estoy caliente” on a hot day in Mexico City or saying that you came to Japan to experience a “seiteki na fukkatsu.” Despite the missteps, you continue learning, and while you never master native-level speech, you continue to amaze yourself with new levels of linguistic sophistication.
It Will Change You
Altogether, the positive and negative experiences, the joys and the stresses, the triumphs and defeats will redefine who you are. Your horizons will be broadened, and your preconceptions rewritten. You see the world in a new way – not exactly the way your host country’s people see it, but some sort of synthesis of your experiences. Both your best and worst days will become the stories that you tell for the rest of your life, and will help you frame future decisions and challenges differently than you otherwise would have. You feel like you are somehow more complete for having survived the experience, and you’re immeasurably stronger because of it.
We hope this guide gave you some food for thought, and be sure to reach out to us if you, your family, or your business are considering relocating to another country. We’re here with resources and trained professionals to help make your move as simple and stress-free as it can be.