The flip side of living abroad


The prospect of embracing a new country and culture is filled with the excitement of new experiences, meeting unfamiliar faces and travelling throughout the country and surroundings.

When we think of living abroad, we think of the positive end of the coin and overlook the other side of the coin. However, the flip side often catches many professionals or students off guard, as they find themselves thrown into the unknown without adequate preparation or an understanding of what lies ahead of them. Encountering challenges while living abroad is an inherent aspect of relocation. If not considered prior, once the initial thrill has passed, a sobering reality sets in, and too often expats realise that they lack the necessary prior training or awareness to navigate the following barriers:

Language:  this can be a substantial obstacle, hindering effective communication and integration into the local environment.

Limited personal or professional network: absence of a support system or connections in the host country can contribute to feelings of isolation and a sense of being apart.

Unfamiliarity with cultural norms: Observing and understanding the cultural norms of the host country is essential for successful integration.

Job Search challenges: Navigating the job market in a new country has its own set of challenges, often requiring adaptability and resilience.

These hurdles collectively can give rise to a sense of isolation, lack of integration and mounting frustration. However, the key to getting over this phase and moving forward lies in acknowledging that everything is new and requires a growth mindset and open approach to adaptation.

Adjusting involves:

Learning the language.

Building a local network.

Cultural familiarisation:  understanding what is visible above the water and what is hidden below the surface (Iceberg Model of Culture).

Persistence in Job Search: when facing challenges in the job market, maintaining tenacity and confidence in one's skills are paramount. Also, reach out to the local network for their help.

While the journey may be demanding at times, transforming it into a fulfilling experience means embracing the reality that some aspects will differ from what we are used to. Prior research and networking are essential.

Acceptance, adaptability, and a growth mindset are indispensable tools for turning the difficulties of living abroad into a truly enriching adventure.

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