If you have wild dreams about leaving the humdrum drone of your daily life and imparting on an adventurous new life, you are not alone. Each year the U.S. population is in flux with those who yearn for the exotic … but it often isn’t what it seems. If you are planning on venturing outside the country for an extended period of time, learn about what you’re getting yourself into.
Know the Difference: Marriage Vs. Cohabitation
Many people confuse expatiates with immigrants. If you’re planning on being either one of these, or even an extended tourist, it’s imperative you know the difference.
An immigrant is someone who plans on permanently transplanting themselves to a new country. They want a better life in a new place, and their intention is to become a permanent citizen there and settle down.
An expatriate is someone who is living in a new place, but aren’t necessarily sure of their intentions. Globalcoachcenter.com puts it very eloquently, explaining that immigrants may have a larger emotional commitment to their new place of residence making the approach different. If expatriates know coming into the country they can leave any time, the effort will be different for trying to find ways to belong, create connections, absorb news ways of being, and making life-long friends, etc.
That’s not to say one is better than the other. Oftentimes expiates are just looking to enhance their life experience by learning and growing in a new place. Immigrating to a new country is like choosing a spouse and tying the knot. Being an expatriate is like cohabiting with someone you think is awesome but you’re not quite ready to tie the knot. In either case, the process is never easy and can end up being a long, drawn out process.
Plan Like Crazy
Once you decide to export yourself to a new country, aside from all the planning and learning about the region you have to do, there are a lot of little things that need to be taken care; everything from ensuring your laptop’s peripheral devices are compatible with your new home, to identity theft protection, to making living arrangements close to where you’ll be working. If you don’t know where you’ll be working yet, plan on staying at a pension or a reasonable hotel for four to six weeks until you get settled in a little more snugly. There are many online sources and checklists like ExpatInfoDesk.com and ExpatExchange.com that will prepare you for your life changing endeavor.
Part of planning to relocate is to protect yourself and your identity. According to Lifelock, over 11 million adults were victims of identity fraud in 2011. ExpatMoneyWatch.com states “it’s an increasing problem globally, and expats are at potentially even greater risk because they have to repeatedly give out large amounts of personal information when establishing themselves overseas.”
Culture shock is a huge thing you can’t really prepare for. From vastly different living conditions, being lost all the time, or not finding your favorite brand of Easy Mac that you’ve been craving, culture shock will hit. Keeping a positive attitude and understanding that it will pass is the only way to get around it.
Whether you’re planing on starting a new life or looking to add some adventure to your own, moving abroad can be a magical experience. Planning accordingly can mean the difference between a nightmare and a dream.
Deni Hendricks – Deni loves everything about traveling abroad, even waiting at the airport. She shares travel tips for moms and families on several travel sites.