Living Abroad: Realities of a foreigner.
A new country, new weather (which in most cases would be different from what you are used to), the mix of different cultures and new foods ready for you to try, these are some of the positives associated with moving to a new country.
However, not much is said about adjusting to a new country. The desire to move is so overwhelming (rightly so), that the post-relocation phase is most often not considered.
I have been a foreigner for a couple of years, mainly as an international student and despite the enthusiasm I felt, looking back now, adjusting won’t have been difficult had there been some guidelines of what to expect when I arrived.
Some of the things I wish I knew then are;
One major aspect of travelling is costs. This is not the initial pre-moving costs, such as flight tickets, health insurance, visa fees(if applicable), but the costs after you arrive.
Yes! those equally draining expenses.
I expected things would be different from what was applicable in my home country, I however, was unprepared for just how much.
If you are relocating to a country with a higher currency exchange rate than your home country, this could be very challenging. You are faced daily with disparities between what it takes to get a product in your country against what it takes to get the same product in a new country.
Every new immigrant goes through currency conversion phobia. (it’s not a medically recognised phobia, unfortunately). It’s a situation where you are converting between two currencies before making a purchase.
It can be draining as you are constantly second-guessing every little item you want to buy.
To counter it, you begin a search for jobs (provided you legally can work), as earning in your new country reduces the dependency on the currency of your country. You do this while trying to juggle other commitments, I.e family or as in my case my degree.
Is it easy? No. Is it possible? Yes.
Bear in mind that finding a job depends on the country you relocate to and the existing racial and gender discrimination.
This is a post for another day, sigh!.
An interesting mix of cultures and beliefs.
Coming from a country with fixed belief systems like mine, I subconsciously expected something similar. However, I was “shooked“.
The array of different beliefs available was a tough transition for me. I moved from an environment where my belief was what you consider a “majority”, to a country where it was not. Very few people were practising my religion.
Searching for people of like minds was daunting and for a while, I didn’t even see the need to.
Luckily I was privileged to find a close community. A community that I could grow in. Finding this is important as associating with people facing similar issues lessens the feeling of isolation you would feel being away from your family and friends.
The language barrier.
English is not the main language of the world. Obviously right? I know.
English happens to be the one language I can speak fluently.
So how do I communicate effectively?
I haven’t been able to find a permanent solution. If you are relocating to a country that speaks the language you are familiar with, perfect.
If this is not the case, it would be challenging. I regularly ask for “English subtitles‘ while conversing, or I find someone who can interpret what the other person is saying.
If all that fails, I simply don’t involve myself in the conversation.
The health care system.
Yes, you would fall sick sometimes. How would you deal with this?
Most countries require having health insurance as a visa requirement to help curtail any health changes you may have.
Post-arrival two things you realise quickly are, your health insurance may not cover all your health care needs and most over the counter drugs won’t be available.
You would have to visit a doctor every time you need to get it.
Consultations are not cheap.
Hence regularly eating healthy and maybe having a friend who is a doctor helps, at least in my case it did.
Despite these setbacks, traveling to a new country is not all doom and gloom. I have been fortunate to meet amazing people who have given me a glimpse into their country and culture.
The growth process is also another obvious advantage of travelling. Not just economically, for this is one of the main reasons, but you learn how to accept or tolerate people a lot more than you would in your home country.
A mind that is stretched by new adventures can never go back to old dimensionsOliver Wendell Homes
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