How to adjust to living and working in a foreign country

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Deciding to live and work in a foreign country can be a big decision to make. Sometimes, it involves leaving your family behind and starting a new life in a foreign country all by yourself. While for others, it can mean having to relocate the whole family abroad to start a new life. In both cases, it’s certainly not an easy decision to take as there are challenges that come with it. We’d examine the possible problems you’re likely to face in a new country and how to overcome them to have a seamless experience. Before we do that, subscribe to our newsletter for more updates and tips. 

Read also: How To Find A Job Abroad

Challenges of living and working in a foreign country

If you’re new in a foreign country or you’re preparing to relocate to a foreign country then some of the challenges you are likely to face include:

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1. Culture shock

Moving to a new place and adjusting to a new terrain can be mentally draining and if not properly handled, can lead to a much bigger problem. You’re not going to find it easy to adapt to a new system when you relocate and start working in a foreign country. 

2. Professional hurdles

The professional terrain can be quite different from what you’re formerly used to. You will need to do a lot of unlearning and relearning to adapt effectively.

3. Language Barrier

Additionally, another challenge immigrants face while living and working in a foreign country is the language barrier. Sometimes it entails having to learn a new language entirely and other times it means having to reorientate yourself in certain areas.

Living abroad in a country you’re not familiar with can be challenging especially because you’re not used to the legal system. You’re not familiar with what obtains in that area and any mistake you make can lead to a bigger problem.

5. Financial instability

Furthermore, relocating means having to adjust to a new standard of living and cost of living. It certainly will not be easy especially if you’re staying in a country with a high cost of living. You’ll have to learn how to find a balance to thrive.

Read also: The Challenges Of Working Abroad

6. Social isolation

Saying goodbye to family and friends isn’t exactly easy. Now, adjusting to a new terrain and having to find a new family you can trust is a lot more difficult. Without the support, living and working in a foreign country will equally be difficult for immigrants.

Successfully adjusting to living and working in a foreign country

Having considered the challenges immigrants can encounter while living and working in a foreign country, let’s now examine the ways you can successfully adapt to your new environment:

1. Cultural Adaptation Strategies

To avoid experiencing culture shock, it is important you research and read about the country you are immigrating to beforehand. This is to help you prepare mentally and brace yourself on what to expect when you finally move. Study their language, culture, traditions, religion, food, dress, and overall lifestyle. These will help when you’re packing your stuff and when you finally move. 

Additionally, if you can, you can start trying their food in your home country to get used to it before you finally relocate. Also, attending festivals, various social gatherings, and fairs abroad will help you familiarize yourself with the culture. 

You should also be open-minded and be ready to ask questions when you’re confused about anything. Although it may not be easy at first, when you apply these principles you’ll fit in sooner than you expect. 

2. Navigating Language Barriers

Language barrier is another problem immigrants are likely to face when they start living in a foreign country. A Korean moving to America will need to learn the English language. A Nigerian moving to Korea or China will also have to learn the language. The few months of learning can be very difficult because there is the tendency that you will be misunderstood many times. While you can take language lessons before relocating or learn using online language applications, below are some of the tips can can help you learn the language of a foreign country within a short while:

  • You can start by learning the basic phrases. You can learn greetings, how to ask basic and important questions, and how to say thank you.
  • Also, you can adopt the nonverbal means of communication and use gesticulation to describe what you need at that point. 
  • Making use of a translation application can also be helpful.
  • Being patient and not easily provoked will also aid your learning process. 

Don’t forget that while you do all of these, you should also dedicate enough time to learning the language. 

Read also: The Benefits Of Working In Canada

3. Building a Support Network Abroad

Having a social circle in a foreign country is important especially when you’re living and working there. As humans, now and then we experience downtimes and will need to discuss our feelings, plans, confusions, and more with people who understand. Some important tips to take note of to help you build a strong network while living and working abroad include:

  • Make sure you identify your social needs. Knowing the class of people you want to relate to and connect with is important. It’ll make your search streamlined and easier. 
  • Joining local groups like the parents teachers forum at your kid’s school, church programs, and so on can also help you connect with like-minded people and build something meaningful with them. 
  • Be open, friendly, and proactive. It’ll help you connect with people faster. 
  • You can also reach out to your existing contacts who are also living and working abroad.

4. Understanding Local Work Culture

Furthermore, as explained earlier, changes in the work culture can pose a challenge for immigrants living and working abroad. Adapting to a new work environment can be very demanding and time doesn’t wait for anyone. The faster to settle in and get along well, the better things will be for you. Below are tips to can adopt to overcome the professional hurdle you will encounter as you work abroad. 

  • Observation is key when learning to adapt to a new work culture. As a worker in a foreign country, observe the responses and the activities of your colleagues. Also, pay attention to the verbal and nonverbal means of communication. All of these will help you to relate well in the workplace. 
  • Asking questions when necessary is also important so you do not make mistakes. When you’re confused at any point, ask questions do not make assumptions. 
  • Willingness to learn will also help your transition into a new work environment. You must be willing to give it what it takes, learning where necessary for you to grow and thrive in your new workplace. 

Read also: Tips For Living And Studying In A Foreign Country

5. Financial Considerations and Budgeting

One of the most important things you need to take into consideration is your finances. People travel abroad most times to seek greener pastures and better opportunities. So, you must pay attention to your financial choices and budgeting. Some of the ways you can do this effectively include:

  • You can adopt a scale of preference to help you keep track of your spending
  • Do not evade your takes 
  • You can take a second job or a remote job if your schedule permits it and you can afford it. 
  • Let your spending be less than your income

6. Health and Wellness Abroad

Additionally, another important aspect to consider is your health. It’s a popular saying that health is wealth. I’d also like to add that wealth is not health. This implies that regardless of what happens, you should always prioritize your wealth and your well-being. Pay attention to your overall wellness and seek help when it becomes necessary. Also, you can subscribe to the health insurance plan to help with this aspect. You can take care of your overall health while living and working abroad by following these steps:

  • Do not overwork yourself. Know your limits and get rest when your body needs it.
  • Including exercises in your daily routine will go a long way in keeping you fit. 
  • Adopting healthy eating habits and drinking lots of water will give your body the right nutrients that it needs to function maximally.
  • Taking breaks and going on a vacation or an outing will also help to improve the state of your mental health.
  • When you notice any symptoms, do not hesitate to contact a doctor. 

Finally, one of the things you don’t want to do is have a problem with law enforcement agencies abroad. It can put everything you’ve worked for at stake. It’s therefore necessary that you familiarize yourself with the legal procedures and you act accordingly. You should ensure to:

  • Always ensure you’re with a means of identification at all times
  • Have the original copy of all legal documents and submit them when they are requested. 
  • Report your grievances to the right authority.

Read also: How To Finance Your Study Abroad Experience

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  • Mercy Awofiranye is a creative writer with over five years of experience. Currently, she specializes in creating helpful content for students in the education space. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, and learning new things.