After having lived as an expat for the last 22 years in 5 different countries, I am starting to get the idea!
There are rules expats should always live by, no matter where they’re from and where they now live. Those rules are simple and basic but so very important. First, picture the expats that live in your own town or city and ask yourself what you expect of them.
-Learn the language
-Respect the culture(s)
-Do not criticize (as you would think of an expat in your city that dislikes and criticizes everything… if you don’t like it, then leave!)
-Adapt (you don’t have to lose your own culture, but there are times when you must adapt or back off. As an example for me, I live in a Mennonite community, therefore when I walk on the road or go to my neighbors’ house, I cover myself below the knees, below the elbows and no cleavage…
-Be open minded whether it is cuisine, traditions etc.
-Be aware of the laws and respect them
-Be aware of the way you make yourself portrayed
Then, simply apply those rules to yourself!
As an expat you will stand out. You can be disliked quickly (remember, there is no second chance to make a “first impression”) and it can be hard to recover. So approach your new life slowly, be reserved, listen and observe more than speak at first. This will help you understand the people and their culture, and will prevent you to judge too quickly.
Depending on where you are moving to, the language is often the most difficult thing to conquer. If you only speak English and are not inclined to learn, then it would be wise to choose an English speaking country. But if you wish to learn a language, immersion beats any school, books, CDs etc. Immersion is, as far as I’m concerned, the best way to learn. You need to be patient at first as it will be slow going. But once you are starting to be able to communicate you will learn faster and faster. Again, don’t get discourage as it will slow at first, which is totally normal.
Your main tool is your dictionary. Start by making a thorough list of keywords (I suggest about 50 to start with) and learn them. So if you are going to build a house for example, your list should include such words as; hammer, saw, pliers, wrench, pick ax, screwdriver, nails, screws, feet, inches, wood, cement… To learn these words, set a reasonable goal for yourself. You can start with 5 words per day and adjust as you go.
You also need a list of the main verbs; have, doing, to be, need, looking for, how much, going, to go…
You then integrate a verb with a word. Let’s take “need” and “hammer”. With only those 2 words you can safely go to a hardware store and ask for a hammer!
As time goes, you learn more words from the people around you and eventually, by listening, you can start making sentences. Shyness is the biggest deterrent and you should not be. You will make mistakes for sure (it is impossible not to), but the local people will appreciate your efforts and will eventually become your best teachers! And what better way to make friends than those people who are enthralled to help and coach you.
And remember that every day is a new learning experience, especially in a foreign country!
1 ~ Living Comfortably In The Jungle Of Central America!
2 ~ Producing And Storing Your Own Electricity, You Have The Power To!
3 ~ Building Off-Grid In The Jungle, Fun But Challenging
4 ~ Easy Broadband Satellite Internet Access
5 ~ Water Supply Considerations, Off-Grid In The Jungle
6 ~ The Domestic Cats’ Life In The Jungle
7 ~ The Belize Mennonite’s Lifestyle
8 ~ The Invasion Of The Flood Flies
9 ~ Living in Paradise! But… Where Is It?
10 ~ Solar Panels Placement & Sun Chart Creator
11 ~ Health Issues When Living Abroad
12 ~ Telecommunication Challenges In A 3rd World Country
13 ~ Fleas & Ticks In The Jungle
14 ~ The Dangers Of The Black Poisonwood Tree
15 ~ To Buy Or To Rent When Moving Abroad
16 ~ Home Schooling When Living Abroad
17 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 1 of 2
18 ~ Tips & Hints On Things To Watch Out For During Construction – Part 2