Everyone Makes Mistakes...
Feb 25, 2014
Making mistakes is part of life, right? We’re all human; we make mistakes, right?
Well… yes and yes. But when it comes to making a life-changing transition such as a move abroad, mistakes can set off a whole domino effect of misery, leaving an all-over bad taste in your mouth about your new home. Not exactly the best way to start your life in a tropical paradise, is it?!
Even the best-laid plans aren’t mistake-proof, but some of the biggest mistakes made during the process of moving abroad aren’t made during the move itself… they’re made before the move even happens:
Not learning any of the local language…
There are mixed reviews on this ‘mistake’. Some people will tell you that you don’t need a stitch of the language to get by. After all, there will always be someone who can speak English, and worst-case, you can resort to your ‘expert’ charade movements.
This is a mistake. In order to be somewhat independent and ensure you’re getting what you deserve (read: not taken advantage of), it’s in your best interest to learn as much of the local language as you can before your move. If you’re not bilingual, you will continue to learn for years to come… learn as much as you can before you go, and continue the journey once you arrive.
Not doing enough research before making the move…
This seems like it should be common sense, right? Well, it seems some folks lack just that… it’s true that over researching can be detrimental too, but it’s important you get as many perspectives as possible, and that includes the negative ones. Don’t brush aside the naysayers, and make sure that the ones that can’t say anything bad don’t have a hidden agenda (read: they’re actually realtors that want you to buy their cousin’s garage that’s been transformed into a lovely apartment, made to look beautiful with ‘selective’ photography).
Of course the best research you can do is personal reconnaissance… get your boots on the ground via a Discovery Weekend and appease all your senses in one trip!
Assuming it will be exactly the same as it was when you were there on vacation…
Even if you’re the sort to leave the resort or ‘live like a local’, even on vacation, you cannot, we repeat, can not, assume that living in a new country will be the same as vacationing there. No matter where you live, there are always going to everyday hassles, work stresses and chores. And the sooner (preferably before you even make the move!) you realize that ‘living’ and ‘vacationing’ are two separate entities, the sooner you can start enjoying your new life.
Alright, so you’ve done it… you’ve made the move. Yippee! Ok, so now what? Aside from having to adapt to your new environment, make friends, carve out new routines and everything else that comes with a new move, more (possible) mistakes loom, if you’re not careful, that is:
Treating your move like one big, long vacation…
Aahh… vacation. A time to spend your savings doing activities with other vacationers, try every cocktail under the sun (before lunchtime), gorge yourself with food you typically wouldn’t eat and fall asleep by the pool to fight off both your alcohol and food hangovers. After a week or two, your waistline, wallet and liver are certainly happy to return to a normal routine and diet… but if this is how you choose to spend your new ‘fulltime’ life, you’ll see it gets old very quickly. Instead, why not start getting involved in your new community? Take a class that interests you (language, surfing, etc.), experiment with cooking local food, with fresh ingredients from the market… there are many ways to pass the time and assimilate into your new life. Leave the vacation-type activities for weekends or save up for when your friends and family come to visit you, instead.
Imparting your home country ‘wisdom’ onto those in your adopted country…
Insisting that you can do something more efficiently, in a more cost-effective manner, and complaining that there are no McDonalds or Twix chocolate bars available in your new home are a couple of surefire ways to have your new neighbors lose interest in you really quick. This mistake is one that can actually happen without you even realizing it… its human nature to make comparisons. However, take stock of what you’re saying and how often you’re saying it… after becoming involved and living somewhere for a while, those thoughts should become all but non-existent. If you still find yourself thinking (or saying) these things after a few months you may need to reevaluate your new lifestyle choice… are you actually living ‘the life’? Or are you simply trying to live the same life you left?
Mistakes are a part of life… we all know this. And in most cases, they can be rectified. Sometimes it takes a mistake in your ‘old life’ to realize that the path you’re on will only lead to more mistakes… living out a dream in a tropical locale though? Rarely a mistake… especially if you follow Where International’s advice on how to avoid making them (mistakes) through this period of transition!
One of the best pieces of advice we can give is to visit your future adopted home country on a Discovery Weekend… taste the food, breathe the air and get a real feel for life in paradise.