Posted on May 31, 2019 | By Isabelle Sudron
21st Feb 2019
Moving abroad is a pretty big deal for anyone, whether you’ve lived overseas before or it’s your first time on a plane. Deciding to call a new place home is a big decision and you can expect to go through a few teething stages in the process. This is what we reckon are the 10 common stages of moving abroad – enjoy!
#1 Pre-move emotional roller-coaster
Whether you’ve been planning your move for months or you decide to go just a few days before booking a flight, you can expect to go through a roller-coaster of emotions in the time leading up to your move. There’ll be nerves, excitement, panic, impatience, doubts – just about every feeling you can think of. Don’t let the pre-move jitters get to you though! Like many things in life, the thought of moving abroad is often a lot scarier than the reality. Whilst we’re confident your new home will be awesome, just remember it’s not the end of the world if it’s not right for you. If worst comes to worst and you feel that you’ve made a terrible mistake – book a flight home and just call it a ‘holiday’. But make sure to give it a chance first, it takes everyone a different amount of time to settle in to a new life!
#2 Flight freak out
You’re actually on the flight… This is not a drill. We repeat: YOU. ARE. ON. THE. FLIGHT!
It’s around this time that the reality of moving abroad sets in. It could hit you on your way to the airport, halfway through a movie on a long-haul flight or just as you touch down in your new home country. No matter where it happens, prepare for a little freak out around the time of your flight. Pack a few comforting snacks, make sure you’ve got a playlist of calming music and try your best not to pour your heart out to the poor soul sitting next to you…
#3 Culture shock
Upon first arriving in your new country, you’ll likely be struck by how different it is to your own country. And although you may have experienced a little bit of culture shock on holiday, there’s nothing like entering a new country and thinking I live here now.
Suddenly, every minute difference will be abundantly clear, and you may find yourself micro-analysing everything you do. ‘Is this what I’m meant to be doing?’ ‘Is this how the locals do it?’ ‘Am I pronouncing that correctly?’ Perhaps you’ll find yourself nervously apologising for everything you do, just in case you’re offending someone. Or maybe you’ll try your best to put on the local accent – even if you’re saying everything in English… Whatever you do, we can guarantee you’ll be hit with a bit of culture shock, even if you’ve visited your new home country before.
#4 Putting down roots
Find that flat! Get yourself a TEFL job! Sort out a bank account! Depending on where you live, all these things could be surprisingly challenging, or they could be easy breezy. Whether these tasks are simple or difficult, it’s best not to put them off. You’ll need to put down roots sooner or later, and the sooner you arrange these things, the sooner you can get on with enjoying your new life. Plus, once you have your own keys, you’ll begin to feel like you belong. You should also look into getting a public transport pass (or whatever you need to get around town), a local phone number and as many loyalty cards as you can carry!
#5 Making yourself at home
Once you’ve sorted out all the necessities of living in a new place, you can start to arrange the fun bits… Making yourself feel at home is different for everyone. Settling in might involve signing up to a gym, finding your favourite local café, joining a class to learn the local language or taking up a hobby that you can only do in your new home country. (Sumo wrestling in Japan anyone? How about scuba diving in Thailand?) Whatever it is that you dreamed of doing as part of your new life abroad – get out and do it!
#6 Making friends
An absolutely vital part of making a new life abroad is making friends. Once you’ve got a few buddies or acquaintances, exploring your new home country will become much more fun. It’s also important to have a support network for the times that you’re struggling and need someone to vent to.
Lots of EFL teachers start by making friends with their colleagues at work, both local teachers and other foreigners. Another great place to make friends is through clubs or groups of people with common interests, such as a football club, a language class or a regular networking event. Lots of these groups can be found on Facebook or advertised on local notice boards. Though if you’re struggling to find anything, it may be worth asking around at work about the best place to discover social events, clubs and groups.
Making friends in a new country may feel a bit like dating at first, as you work your way through a few awkward conversations and incompatible pals. However, in time you’ll find some keepers that will make life in your new home country much more exciting!
#7 Thinking you’ve ‘cracked it’
When you finally crack something that you’ve been finding difficult, it’s definitely cause for celebration! Perhaps you learn to say a phrase in the local language that gets understood for the first time or maybe you make your way to work without getting lost. It could be a tiny achievement, but whatever it is – own it! Think about how far you’ve come since you first moved abroad to teach English abroad and how many more achievements you have to look forward to.
#8 Realising you’ve not cracked it…
Although you’ll have plenty of small victories, you’ll also have a few small failures too… Did you get caught out by a simple tourist scam? Or did a stranger correct the pronunciation of a foreign word you’ve been saying wrong for weeks? Whatever it is, it’ll probably feel terrible at the time, but it could be a funny story in a few weeks’ time – and it will only make you stronger and smarter in the long run!
#9 Surprise homesickness
We know we’re meant to be giving you some TEFL inspiration (and that we will!) but if we’re being honest, at some point you’re going to be hit with a little bit of homesickness. It might happen immediately, or it might happen just when you thought you had made yourself feel at home. Don’t worry though, everyone feels a little homesickness in a new country. Even if you feel like you’re teaching overseas in the most amazing place in the world, that doesn’t mean that doesn’t mean you can’t miss a few of your favourite things about home.
#10 A turning point
Days, weeks or months in, you’ll have a major turning point… It might be realising you want to stay in this country forever or realising that you’re ready to go. You might have a new understanding of the culture or a simple appreciation of the amazing new place your living in. We can’t say exactly what your personal turning point will be, but we’re excited for you to find out!
If moving abroad sounds good to you, why not download our free guide: Get started with Job Hunting.