To succeed in your expatriation
Let’s get into the heart of the subject. One of the crucial points of your expatriation: your arrival and your settlement.
No, I am not giving you advice on how to find an accommodation, the bank you should choose, etc. I do it for Ireland and for the UK because these are the 2 experiences I have lived. I would not allow myself to do it globally. Simple because there are too many differences and exceptions from one country to another! For example, I am not going to list all available banks in the world or to give you the list of all letting agencies neither…
This blog aims to develop itself thanks to my future experiences and to the experiences other bloggers will agree to add. Then, I hope you will find what you are looking for very soon.
You finally finished your paperwork. You chose your destination carefully. You are relax, enthusiastic, and ready to make the most of this new adventure.
All this preparation work was sometimes exhausting and gruelling. You think you’ve done now. Nop! A long way to go, you still have, young traveller padawan.
You finally arrived. Your adaptation work starts. Your mission is to embrace this new culture and to make it yours. I am not telling you to forget yours. It would be ridiculous because your culture built your personality and is part of you. But this is also impossible. You swim in this culture for too long. Its in your blood forever. And it’s beautiful.
But to succeed in your expatriation, you have to behave as a local people. You are not on holiday. As a simple tourist, you have to respect the local culture but you won’t stay long enough to understand it or to appropriate it.
However, as I said, you are not a tourist anymore. If you would like to be legitimate, find a job, an accommodation, make friends, to simply get a life, you will have to adapt yourself. Once again, I won’t generalize, as each culture is different (sometimes you can find different cultures in one country). I give details on the Irish and British cultures only, in their dedicated sections.
But please see below few advice you can use everywhere.
The first one, the most important because you are going to do it even without realizing it… Stop comparing! Especially if in your compare, you judge or criticize negatively the local culture. If you are in this extreme, the way of redemption will be a little bit longer for you. Or starts again from zero.
Indeed, there is nothing more annoying for a local people to hear from a stranger that the public transportation is bad, politic isn’t understandable, there is too many homeless people in the streets, too many drunk people, bla bla bla. Don’t think you are above this and stop saying you are too open-minded to fall into this trap. No. You will do it. You will compare. And you will start in your head. The difficult thing, is too keep everything to yourself, without telling anything aloud.
If you start telling this kind of things to a local people whereas you just arrived in the country, you facing the risk to, depending on the cultures, cause unpleasant consequences. The local could be upset (you might not see it on his behaviour… But you probably can forget about the nascent friendship) or he/she might send his/her fist to your face. Well… Who are you to judge a country and a culture whereas you just arrived?! You are quite new and ignorant so you can’t understand the differences. You don’t even know the entire system!
And another important argument… If you just moved in, depending on most of the systems, you still haven’t started to paying taxes. So you enjoying the benefits of the current system without contributing. It will be better to stay quiet in this case…
When you will create friendships, it will be interesting to compare. True friends will always be interested to know how you used to live in your home country, and what are the differences with their system.
Also, the fantastic games between expatriates is to “collect” all clichés people have got on their culture. And your friends will certainly ask you about the clichés you had before moving in.
Yes, finally, you can compare and discuss with the local people. But you have to wait the right time to do it. When you just move in nobody knows you, no one can guess that you are comparing without having any bad thoughts. If people don’t know you, they can just simply conclude you criticize, you judge an entire country and culture, without having the appropriate knowledge and experience!
After a few months/years spent in the country, and with people who know you, the compare between the cultures and ways of life could be a very nice and fun discussion!
Then, once you have assimilated this rule, you have to change your habits. So you can live as a local person!
Observe! Be attentive to each detail. And you will understand you have to stop some customs. If you chose expatriation, it’s not to continue to live with your own routine, is it? Expatriation aims to discover new ways of life and to adapt yourself to them.
If some things seems illogical to you, don’t act stupidly. It might be a bad habit. Discuss with your friends, housemates, colleagues, neighbours, on their habits, their culture. It will facilitate your integration. I’ve never met anyone, in any culture, who send you packing when you show some interest in his/her way of life. On the contrary, local people will always take time to help you integrate. Furthermore, you show interest in their culture, in them… It will also help to create friendships! Depending on your personality of course, but in most cases, you may meet situations when you will feel alone, far away from the people you know… And this is absolutely not a nice feeling, believe me. Creating relationships, quickly, will allow you to easily get out of dull moments. And to just get out!
Let take some examples.
I am Parisian and my driving was Parisian… I didn’t care about people who wanted to get in the motorway during morning traffic jams in the morning… Didn’t care about pedestrians waiting 10 min for a charitable soul to let them cross, etc. In many countries, especially all those north of France, you will have to get different habits. In Norway or in the UK for example, you will stop when you see a pedestrian GETTING CLOSE of the pedestrian cross. What a surprise when I visited Bergen in Norway, looking at the beautiful mountains, walking at the same time, and then lowering my head because I was getting closer to the road, and oh! A car was already stopped to let me cross. And it was the case everyday in Norway, the UK (except London of course) and Ireland (except Dublin… The driving in this city is a little bit too… Parisian! People get use to cross everywhere so the drivers don’t pay attention anymore. You cross at your own risks. I remember that day when I clearly felt this bus body gently cuddling the end of my beard hair. Nice morning fright!).
Still in a Parisian example, but this behaviour is globally the same everywhere in France: queuing. To get on the bus, the metro, or waiting in front of the post office or bank office… Anyway, opportunities are not missing. For a French guy, queuing is a waste of time. French is individualistic. He/She thinks about his/her time, don’t mind about other people. The worst stupid people won’t queue and you can observe that most of French people jump on the metro trying to take a seat instead of waiting the next train. This behaviour can be found in the London Tube. But not systematically.
In general, don’t do it in the UK! The common French guy is a loudmouth and loves to affirm him/herself. But won’t start a fight most of the time. The British guy is totally different. If the British doesn’t see you queuing properly when the bus comes or at the post office, he/she will calmly reminds you the rules in this country and will ask you to come back to your spot. Even the person behind you in the queue will save your spot for you. But be careful, do not try a second time, or don’t even think about ignoring this British who’s warning you… The second time… You won’t see it coming. The guy won’t say anything and will nicely punch you in the face. And it will be his/her way to explain with a beautiful gesture what he/she tried to explain you just before.
Don’t crow and keep this in mind: British people prefer to end a conflict quickly. Rather than the French people who prefer to make a stink during 30 minutes, the British will violently end the conflict. And the 1st on the floor will apologize to the 2nd and everything will be ok. Easy. Most of them are “prepared” to this kind of situation, even if the conflicts are very unusual (British are very polite and respectful people). Except at the end of a drunk night… Of course. And then, keep in mind that rugby is part of the UK culture…
I can give you more obvious examples, like drinking alcohol in the streets in the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia, but I hope you won’t be stupid enough to do this kind of things. Knowing that it is prohibited in so many countries in the world! (probably yours as well)
So, a strong advice when you go to a country where the culture is extremely different: find out on the things to do and the others to proscribe. You will find enough content on Internet but I invite you to talk to embassies as well. Expatriates work in embassies. No need to leave your country to receive quality advice. Magic!
To summary, how could you succeed your expatriation?
In this blog, I keep telling you that expatriation is a unique and PERSONAL experience (yes I am not just reminding you… I insist too!). The success will depend on you!
And the methods to reach this goal will depend on your personality, your desires, your way of life… Many things… personal.
Here a few global advice I can give you to facilitate your expatriation:
– Do not compare you culture with the local culture when you arrive, with people you barely know! You risk to upset them and they will have a very bad opinion on you.
– Get out of your comfort zone and meet people! Book language lessons (it’s ideal to meet new expatriates who are as lost as you are). Register on Meetup for example. This is an app that allows you to meet new people according to your hobbies. Nice too!
– Observe! Observe! Observe! Be really careful to the people around you. How do they speak? How do they drive? What kind of products do they buy at the supermarket? All similitudes you can notice in the observed behaviours could help you to understand their way of life.
– Ask questions. They will be glad to help you and happy that you show some interest to them and to their culture. If you feel that the question could be misinterpreted or a little bit too personal, precise you don’t want to be impolite, don’t want to upset them, or they don’t have to answer if the question is inappropriate.
With all of this you are now ready for expatriation! Oh… Last advice: don’t forget you rock!