-Special Submission by Matt Malouf-
The surge of Americans living full-time and seasonally abroad continues. Currently, The Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AAR) estimates that 8.7 million American reside oversees. Our editors have seen many real estate investors who read our publications make that transition.
Their reasons are varied, but have included: to retire early from a corporate job, to explore other cultures, as a way to stretch their monthly cash flow, to upgrade their standard of living, and of course, for the ever-so-popular amore.
If you’ve been considering moving to Coast Rica to escape that boring 9-to-5 or have always wanted to own a bed-and-breakfast in the Island of Santorini, read on to see if this option suits your lifestyle.
Starting a new life in a new country can be nerve-wracking. You have to understand the new culture and it is difficult when you get labeled as a “foreigner” or an “expat” on first sight. Here are a few tips that can help you adapt to a new life in a foreign county.
Trying New Things
As they say, you should always be willing to try new things, but, of course, you need to draw a line somewhere.
However, there are a lot of people out there who are afraid to eat new things, let alone experience extreme sports and adventure. This is the fear of the unknown and many research studies suggest we fear uncertainly more than a known bad outcome. Some of the questions that come to mind when people want to try new things are what if that country is dangerous, what if I drown and what if I don’t like the new dish.
It is natural for some level of fear to always be present when trying out new things; however, our overactive imagination makes it seem so much worse. Once a person makes up his mind to try new things at every possible turn, he or she will see a reduction in their fears and a thirst for new experiences.
Trying new things also makes us grow. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and putting yourself where the action is will make us more empowered, open-minded and far from being bored. Afterall, you only live once.
Do As the Romans Do
A lot of people have trouble adapting to new places. Although living in an exotic new land may sound like a romantic notion, many people fail to make the transfer from expat to compatriots when they stick to their old lifestyles.
Most people experience culture shock after they witness a culture so vastly different from theirs. Culture shock slowly sets in and results in depression. This further alienates a person from the locals and makesthem feel lonely and homesick.
So, if you want to live abroad, make sure to open up your mind. Remember, this is not the country from where you came from and your old notions and concepts will no longer serve you. Since you will encounter different rules, observe how other people are acting in that situation so that you can understand what is expected of you.
One of the biggest concern of foreigners is that they are uncomfortable being a “visible minority.” A white person will stand out like a beacon in Nigeria or Japan and is bound to generate some odd looks. But if you adapt to the locals’ customs and follow their lead, you will see that your differences will look less marked.
Also, ask questions. If you feel lost, there is no shame in asking for help. You can always ask for explanation if you feel you have missed something. Also pay attention to not just the words but nonverbal communication to get a better idea of what is going on.
Once you accept change and adapt to your life in a new environment, you will find it has opened venues of opportunities for you and will lead to more thrilling and interesting stuff.
Don’t Wait For Anyone Else
Once you get to your new country, don’t wait for others to give you instructions on how to go about doing your business. Take the initiative and do it yourself. Ask lots if questions. Many Americans will experience a 180 degrees difference when they come to live in India or Egypt. The best way to cope with it is to go out and participate in what the locals are doing. You can learn a lot from actually experiencing things compared to what you are just told or what you read.
Speak the Language
Many English speakers are under the misapprehension that they can get by throwing random words of English and locals will understand them. Hence, they suffer quite a shock when they realize not many people in Asian or African countries speak English.
It is recommended that people who want to live in a new country must at least learn some key phrases in a foreign language so that they can order food or drink or find their way to a hotel. However, knowing the language extensively will enable you to have proper conversations with the locals, which can help you quickly learn about their customs and traditions. It will show how interested you are in knowing about your new country.
Pursue New Activities and Hobbies
In my understanding, if you are learning to live in a new country, you should also try and pursue some new hobbies. Try to explore where you are and what your place is in the greater scheme of things. This will help you look at the world from a different perspective.
One of the best things you can do is to look for a group that matches your interests. Even if you are from the other side of the world, there are always commonalities. Are you interested in cooking and is there a group offering local, exotic cuisine classes? Is there a local who likes to travel the world like you do and have many exciting stories to share? Join them.
If you are feeling isolated, look for a community of expats or start your own group. They will be native English speakers and will understand the norms of where you came from and can offer you words of advice.
Respect Different Cultures
Remember that unfortunate photo of Selene Gomez baring her leg in a mosque while she was on a visit to the United Arab Emirates? Don’t make that mistake. Be responsible and respect other people’s culture and religion.
The first thing you need to do is to accept the fact that there are many different cultures in the world other than just our own. Even if you do not agree with a custom or tradition, remember that it could encompass the country’s value and you need to honor your role as a visitor. An act that may seem simple or trivial to you may reflect something far more significant for a person from that culture. Being open-minded can fill your life with positivity and also encourage friendships with people from different race, culture and backgrounds.
If you follow these few simple rules, pretty soon you will be able to make a new home overseas. So, do you have what it takes?
-Special Submission by Matt Malouf-
Malouf is an International Real Estate Consultant.
For more information, please visit MyLifeWorldWide.com
Malouf has also published a book, please find more information @ https://www.amazon.com/Matt-Malouf/e/B07CGHV3XJ