5 Things to Consider when Moving Abroad
Contributed by: @OlayideM
I recently moved to the UAE, this would make it my third time living abroad and each time I’ve lived outside of the UK, I have always said to myself “I wish I had known that before getting here.”
So for those considering whether to subscribe to the nomad lifestyle or not, here are 5 things for you to consider:
1. Read about the country/culture
If you haven’t already visited the country you’ll be moving to, NUMBER 1 thing is to research and read up on the culture. The first time I lived abroad was when I did a semester in Oslo, Norway. I didn’t do my research, which proved somewhat favourable because all my misconceptions and preconceived thoughts of what I’d expect were pleasantly shattered upon landing in Norway – for example, it was actually hot and not snowing in August. I was extremely overdressed.
Living in North America, you’d think this rule isn’t applicable, but it is. America on TV isn’t always America in real life. I had the opportunity to work in NYC and one thing that frustrated me most was using the Metro map and the Metro stations! Did you know Metro stations have different Exit and Entrance routes? (I got lost IN THE metro station more than once). If there is an app for anything pertaining to knowing your new city better then download it.
Although these are basic examples, knowing the basics will prepare you for the not so basic things and major cultural differences and your time spent will be that more pleasant. Go with knowledge and with expectation.
Basically save and save well. Assuming your plan to move isn’t a spur of the moment decision, but something you’ve planned for sometime, save as much as you can, of course knowing what you’re saving for.
Dubai, has been the one moving experience where I’ve been surprised by the various hidden fees and deposits that need to be paid (before you can even breathe). I applied rule one on this occasion, but information was limited, so plan for the unexpected.
Depending on your current financial health, and knowing EXACTLY what you can afford, have a credit card for EMERGENCIES ONLY. They will occur, but watch your spending pattern with the card and ensure that the only reason you bring out the card is for a legit emergency. Bad debt in the UAE is a criminal offence.
3. Get your phone unlocked (months before you leave)
Self-explanatory. I had the worst experience with unlocking my phone when going to America I couldn’t use my phone with a local sim card for almost eight weeks. Unless of course you’re on the baller status list and will be purchasing a new phone with a contract then ignore my advice.
4. Be Purposeful
Get involved. Be a Tourist. Explore. I mean that’s why you want to move right? Know the tourist attractions, get them done, but also explore the “side streets”. In other words find the right balance of being a tourist and becoming a local. My time in NYC was much more amazing because I wanted to become a local – life was very different past 42nd Street both uptown and downtown.
5. Make Friends
This ties in with rule four, getting involved and becoming a local means you will make friends. Don’t underestimate how interesting you are and how interesting others are. For an introvert like myself, the task was incredibly daunting, but had I not done so I wouldn’t confidently say that I have friends I can visit in different countries (not just Facebook/surface friends either). Friends definitely help with the homesickness.
Did you know?
- In Scandinavian countries such as Norway, sandwiches are commonly served on one piece of bread? Messy stuff! (And stay away from brown cheese, don’t do it). Also, Norway is one of the most expensive European countries - £8.00 for a Big Mac.
- New York City taxi cabs are yellow because according to car salesman John Hertz (1907), yellow is the easiest color to spot at a distance. (source: http://bigappled.com/2014/03/31/41-random-facts-about-new-york/2/)
- Facetime, Whatsapp Call, Viber etc. do not work in the UAE (have your Skype ready) and there are women and children only sections on public transport. Men found in these sections get fined approximately £20.00.
If you are planning on taking a massive step to live abroad, congratulations! It will be worthwhile, and if you’re not feeling it, remember it will take time to adjust (usually 4-6 months for your new environment to feel like home) and don’t compare it to home too much because you’ll lose sight of what your new city is made of.