Every country is different, no matter how near or far. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at homes for sale in Toronto or Beijing, culture clash is an inevitable part of moving to a foreign land.
To make the transition as painless as possible, it’s important to do your research and prepare ahead of time. Here are a few important things to keep in mind:
It takes time to learn the language
This goes for more than just the kind of language people speak with their mouths. There are all kinds of other languages you’ll need to learn in your new home.
Even if you speak Greek fluently, for instance, you might not realize that when you give someone a thumbs-up in certain parts of the country, you might as well be giving them the middle finger. Move to Italy and you might wonder why some businesses are closed in the middle of the day, not realizing that lunch breaks there last up to four hours.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get the hang of it right away, and don’t hesitate to apologize and explain yourself if you make a major faux pas. For the locals, social customs such as these come naturally. For you, it will take some time to get used to them.
You will eventually feel homesick
Whether you find the process of acclimating to a foreign culture exciting or intimidating, sooner or later you’ll find yourself missing your previous life.
You might miss the familiarity, you might miss the food, you might miss your loved ones. Whatever you end up focusing on, homesickness is a natural consequence of making such a big life change. Just as you have to give yourself time to adjust to your new country, you have to give yourself time to adjust to the distance from your old ones.
Keeping in touch with your friends back home can be a big help, as can seeking out expats like yourself who may be dealing with similar feelings. In the end, it’s important not to isolate yourself. Keep putting yourself out there and eventually you will feel at home.
Bureaucracy is never not annoying
As difficult as it can be avoiding social faux pas and overcoming nostalgia for your homeland, the biggest obstacle of moving to a new country is and always will be the bureaucratic hoops you must constantly jump through.
No matter how long you’ve lived in a country, if you moved there from a different one, there will always be part of your life and history that needs to be accounted for. And no matter how many times you account for it, it always seems like there’s someone new government employee, agency, or program that needs you to account for it all over again.
For that reason, you should always keep your visas, citizenship documents, and work, education, and medical histories safe and well-organized. Make backups as well, in case anything should ever happen to them. One thing you can count on regardless of what country you live in is that government bureaucracy is always a pain in the butt.