As soon as you decide to move abroad, you’ll need to start building up your knowledge base – both about your destination country and about what to expect when immersing yourself in a new culture. This section provides tips on pre-departure preparation, culture shock and specific practical concerns.
- Learn before you leave: As soon as you have decided to move abroad, you should start an intense period of reading and researching your host country. Language, food, politics, culture – all of these things should be on your list!
- Prepare yourself for the possibility of culture shock: Depending on which country you’re headed to, your level of culture shock may differ. If you are going to a country with markedly different customs and standards, you will be more likely to experience culture shock.
- Westerners don’t always recognize their own traits: Have you taken the time to assess your “Western perspective”? Make sure that when you are abroad, you learn to see yourself (and your values) in the context of your new environment. Don’t isolate yourself with other expats and don’t make the mistake of thinking your culture is better or more normal than any other.
- Don’t bother with bravado! Get informed about crime statistics and potential political turmoil in your destination before you leave your home country. Don’t wait until you’re in trouble to consider safety measures and exit strategies – street smarts and planning can keep you out of harm’s way.
- Take care of practical matters before leaving home: Travel insurance, international driver’s licenses, finances, vaccinations, etc. etc. etc. All of these things should be taken care of well in advance of your trip. Failing to think ahead can land you in unpleasant and potentially dangerous situations.
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