The excitement that comes with traveling the world is immense. For many, meeting new people, exploring new places, and learning about new cultures is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. However, moving to another country requires a lot of preparation including obtaining a visa, finding storage units, and understanding the potential for culture shock. Nevertheless, some helpful tips have been compiled below.
Why Travel Abroad
Traveling abroad presents a myriad of benefits to those willing to take the plunge, such as increased confidence, cultural enrichment, and foreign language practice. These skills are valuable to every facet of life. Whether you’re a new graduate or a working professional, below are a few ways and reasons to travel abroad:
Study Abroad Opportunities
Colleges and high schools throughout the United States offer students the chance to study abroad — often at a reasonable price. Many third parties, such as the Association of International Education Administrators and the Council on International Educational Exchange do as well, though their prices tend to be lofty. These providers allow students the opportunity to continue their normal studies at a university in the country of their choosing. Countries such as France, Germany, Spain, and Italy commonly host U.S. exchange students — so you won’t feel alone.
Traveling is expensive, especially traveling across the pond. Working abroad, however, means exploring a whole new country while still receiving an income. By doing both concurrently, you’ll make money and receive the cultural enrichment traveling has to offer.
Additionally, today’s global environment is very conducive to working abroad as several companies hold locations throughout the world. For people who are not bilingual, however, working abroad could pose challenges. The U.S. education system does not stress learning a second language nearly as much as its European counterparts. Therefore, competition for jobs may be steep — especially if all the employees are bilingual, trilingual, etc. Nevertheless, several countries speak English as their first language, such as Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and Ireland.
English Language Teaching
Teaching English abroad allows you the opportunity to work in practically any country you can think of. Plus, the job market for English language teaching is in increasing demand as nearly 2 billion people use or are learning the language. Many providers, such as the PeaceCorps, offer 1 to 2-year programs suitable to those wishing to travel only temporarily. This job has the potential to offer more than your traditional study abroad experience as teachers become fully immersed in the daily life and culture of their new country.
Moving To Another Country
No matter what the reason is, moving is impactful. While the honeymoon phase of the move may last for months, culture shock and homesickness will eventually set in. Understanding the difficulties of moving to another country beforehand will make for a more prepared and enjoyable trip. Below are a few things to keep in mind:
Disorientation when immersed in new surroundings, or “culture shock.” is a common phenomenon. Some symptoms of it include: depression, homesickness, helplessness, hyper-irritability, sleep, and eating disorders. Be aware that these may hit you at any point after moving to another country. A couple of ways of preparing for the shock are to research everything about the country beforehand — good or bad, be open-minded to the cultural differences, and bring little touches of homes such as photos or keepsakes.
Moving abroad often means leaving behind the various people, places, and things you’ve grown close to, including family, friends, home, and personal belongings. Such a change in surroundings can lend itself to feelings of homesickness that can be difficult to combat. Distress brought on by being away from home, homesickness is a feeling that will require coping strategies in order to keep in line. Embracing the new culture and meeting new locales may not completely cure homesickness, but it will allow you the ability to make a new home out of your surroundings.
Preparing To Leave Home
Whether you’re moving to another state or another country a lot of planning goes into the process. Below are a few things to keep in mind upon preparing to leave home:
Home preparations can pose a challenge for anybody already settled down. Selling your home may not be easy when pressed for time due to the number of additional tasks moving abroad requires. Therefore, renting or subletting may be more conducive choices. Each state has its own set of real estate rules that you will want to investigate beforehand.
Store Some of Your Belongings
Only so much can be brought with you upon moving abroad. Moreover, the prices of shipping are often expensive. Shipping furniture, decor, or kitchen appliances especially could cost a fortune. Renting a storage unit provides a convenient way to keep all of the belongings that can’t be brought abroad. Additionally, storage units for students often come at affordable prices. Both are great options for those wishing to make only a temporary move.
Sell the Rest of Your Belongings
Moving abroad may mean that you’ll need to declutter and convert to a minimalist lifestyle — at least while you’re away. The alternative might be paying for and maintaining two households, which can be expensive. To start, figure out what is important and what isn’t, then convert that into an itemized list. This will be helpful in assuring you don’t throw away anything you didn’t mean to. For items you don’t want, one option is to sell or donate them to a thrift store. Another option is to use websites like Craigslist or eBay, where you can upload photos and selling prices of individual items.
Additional Tips for Moving Abroad
While a comprehensive list of tips for moving abroad is difficult to make, here are a few matters to take into consideration:
- Applying for a Visa - Different countries require different visas. Likewise, different reasons for travel require different visas. It’s important to look into student versus work visas upon moving abroad, as well as the requirements per country.
- Saving Money - While many countries may offer more affordable housing and standards of living than the U.S., moving to a country with only a suitcase or two may require you buy a lot of things later, such as new furniture, kitchen appliances, and clothing. Make sure you have plenty of money saved up prior to making the journey.
- Planning for Healthcare - If your provider will not cover you while you’re abroad, you’ll need to search for other options. Collect all your records from your current provider in order to create a healthcare plan with a new one. Additionally, you will want to get all the necessary immunizations. The U.S. Embassy offers a comprehensive list of doctors and hospitals for each country, as well as what prescriptions are allowed in which.
- Contacting Your Bank and Phone - Inform your bank and phone company of your intentions to travel so that they do not suspect suspicious activity on your accounts. Additionally, you may wish to purchase a SIM card from a local carrier, as international phone plans can add up.
- Making Copies of Important Documents - Copies of your birth certificate, passport, license, and social security number should all be made in case of emergency.