Looking for a new life
“It’s probably going to sound obvious, but I think the best advice is to get out and experience as much as you can. Eat foods that you never thought you would, visit temples and museums, speak with the locals, try to learn the languauge, and most importantly, push your comfort zone to the limit. Make your own stories!”— -Nicole and Cameron Wears, The Traveling Canucks
You've had it with the rubbish weather, high taxes, plans to privatise the police force and the never-ending recession. It's time to hit the road for a better life in a foreign land. The fact of the matter is, you've decided to swap your regular life - for an expat one.
Although it may seem like the privilege of foreign language university students who get to swan off to France, Spain or further afield for 12 months to hone their linguistics skills, it's never too late to join the University of Life and go and learn a new language - in the country of origin.
What better way to conjugate long-forgotten French, Spanish or German verbs, last used in a nerve-wracking GCSE oral exam - worse still, in an O level exam - or take up a brand-new language such as Japanese, Russian or Portuguese, by diving in at the deep end? Immersing yourself in the very country whose language you wish to master for a few months or longer means you qualify as an expat by default.
Language-learning options are varied and can include summer schools, work experience, classes aimed at over 50s and you can even combine it with your favourite hobby, such as German and ski-ing, or Italian and cooking.
Once you've decided whether to study Spanish in Mexico City, Chinese in Beijing or undertake an Italian and Wine course, you will meet like-minded people from all over the world, who, once school's out, will also have free time on their hands.
Now's the chance to make new friends, do some volunteering to make local friends, and enjoy the free time which can come with this kind of expat lifestyle for a while.
Make it work for you
Although not everyone is employed by the government's Foreign Office, which is a fairly sure way of making it clear that you wish to live abroad, working for a multinational company is another way of angling for a promotion in a far-off land. But don't forget that you can also apply for jobs overseas regardless.
As English is inexplicably the international business language, that is one vital tool that native speakers hold over other candidates looking for jobs. When English-speaking oil technicians take up contracts in the Middle East, you can be sure that a wife and children aren't far behind - and that means English-speaking teachers, doctors, nurses, nannies and drivers will also be hired to fill schools and hospitals and to keep the great expat machine working.
Expat communities also need to be informed so there may be an English-language newspaper or magazine in print, which means jobs for journalists, designers and editors.
Many companies which are used to hiring foreign employees will help out new members of staff with permits, visas, bank account and accommodation, although, of course do not expect to be spoon fed.
Working in a new country will naturally have its challenges, but a good employer will help you overcome the everyday hurdles in your working environment while you adapt to a different culture and start live an expat lifestyle.
Just take the plunge
Of course, not everyone is so organised that they set plans to become an expat and many simply fall into the job description. If seeing some of the world and living as part of a different culture is your dream, simply buy a plane or boat ticket to somewhere exotic - it could be Buenos Aires, Brisbane or Bucharest.
Let's say you've always wanted to live the Argentine dream: succulent steaks, abundant Malbec wine, world-class football players, torso-twisting tango, beautiful women, handsome men, breath-taking polo... the list goes on. In fact, Buenos Aires is quite the expat-friendly city, and given the friendly Latino culture it is very easy to meet both Argentines and expats alike.
Throw yourself in at the deep end with a Spanish class day one, and later that day you may be drinking 'mate' tea at your teacher's house, be invited over to an 'asado' barbecue with her friends, meet a whole bunch of new people, and have a diary fit to busting for the coming week.
Before you know it, you'll not only have fallen in love with the city but also with one of its 'porteño' residents, and really will be taking the plunge - thereby securing your expat future for the long term...
Tips and warnings
- Always make an effort to speak the local language It is important to have a balance of expat and local friends Become the person you could never be back home: throw crazy dinner parties, learn to salsa Ensure your papers are always in order Make friends with your local embassy - it can be fun to go to posh embassy events for a taste of home Research your chosen destination - and if possible, visit it before moving there
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