Living and working abroad is like stepping out of the comfort zone: it can be very intimidating to leave behind everything that is so close and familiar and to change it for something you have very little ideas about.

Many people struggle at first when they have to face the unusual and unfamiliar reality of another country. It doesn’t only influence the way of living, but it also has a considerable impact on the ability to perform at work.

So how can you make the process of adaptation to another reality easier? I’m glad to help you with that. Here are 10 lessons I learned from living and working abroad.

Lesson #1: Overcoming the Barriers

If you’re planning on moving to a different country and working abroad, you’ll have to overcome some barriers. This is the first step to a successful integration to a new environment.

You may become familiar with a language barrier when you travel to a country with a different native language than your own. It can become a real challenge to communicate. But there are also various psychological barriers in communication that can prevent you from adapting quickly. If you feel like you are struggling with psychological obstacles, try to make friends with your new colleagues. I’m sure there’s a lot you can share with them. They may even be working abroad too!


Lesson #2: Be Resilient

People who are not open to something new will find it extremely hard to enjoy the time of living and working far away from home. At first, I was that way. I always refused to understand other cultures and traditions. But when I had a chance to become a part of that new culture, I started to understand that the most important thing in life is to learn how to appreciate diversity, especially in order to succeed at work.   

The modern world is about embracing diversity. And this is the most valuable lesson you can learn while living and working abroad, surrounded by the people who live and think differently than you.


Lesson #3: It’s Okay to Be Unprepared

When I had my first day at work, I didn’t have a coworker who showed me around or provide me with a bit of coaching. I learned everything the hard way: making mistakes and appreciating failures. Even when I arrived at the airport, I had no idea how to get to the place I rented or how to call a taxi. I was completely unprepared.

You may know your way around the city you’re moving to, but there will definitely be some things you’ll be unprepared to face and tackle. Being unprepared is a key to learning from your failures and becoming more experienced.

Lesson #4: Never Confuse Choices and Options

After you change your environment and move to another country, you may feel somewhat overwhelmed. This can make you think that you have to accept each option that appears. But no matter where you move, the most important thing to remember is that you still have choices and options. It’s up to you to choose which option is best for you.


Lesson #5: Don’t Trust Assumptions and Prejudices

For sure, you’ve heard some widespread assumptions and prejudices about the country you’re going to. It’s always been an issue, but recently it’s become even more concerning. Scholars and researchers all agree about the harm of prejudices.

What you should trust is your own ability to see and hear. Form your own opinions based on your own experiences while remembering that people are diverse. What may be a norm in your case can be very different from what others may believe and experience. However, you’re living and working abroad for a reason! Enjoy and learn from the diversity. Keep an open mind. 


Lesson #6: Always Ask For Help

Whenever you need it. Don’t be afraid that someone will judge you. There is nothing to be ashamed of. After all, your life will change completely in a new country, and a new road is always difficult.

Lesson #7: Daily Routine Is Essential

Immediately after moving to another country you should think about creating a sort of a daily routine. Take some time to learn about the new environment you’ll be living in and adapt yourself to it. Sticking to a particular daily plan will help you get through all the difficulties without unnecessary hype and stress.


Lesson #8: Develop Discipline

It’s easy to get carried away by a new fascinating environment, interesting acquaintances and fresh opportunities. There are many seductions, but the most important thing is to develop and maintain discipline. Your attention wandering elsewhere won’t help you perform well at work.

Lesson #9: Taking Care of Your Health Is Crucial

Even if the process of adapting to a new way of living is exhausting, try to maintain a healthy diet and do a simple and quick morning workout. Staying healthy will help you feel more energized, positive and ready for a day ahead.


Wrapping Up

Hopefully, my experience will help you to get through any difficulties so you can focus on appreciating your time abroad even more. The greatest thing to remember is to value the experience you get. After all, this is a very exciting time for you, a time of new opportunities and memories.

All that is left for you to do is to choose your destination and workplace, pack your bags, board a cheap flight and begin your new life!

Diana Clark

Diana Clark once gave up her educator career for something she always dreamed about—writing. Diana is a freelance writer at Awriter. She discovers the world of digital nomads and believes that some day people will become location independent. Feel free to follow Diana on Twitter.


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