What does it take from a personal perspective to move abroad and build a successful and happy life in a new country? This article talks about eight personal attributes and characteristics that will help set you up for success in your new life abroad.
1. Adventurous Spirit.
We’re not talking adventurous in the sense of the “explorers of old” although that could help. Here we’re talking about interest and curiosity. Enthusiasm for getting out there and discovering what your new environment has to offer.
2. Open to challenge.
For sure there will be challenges. You will need to use your initiative and step outside your comfort zone in order to get things done, sometimes just the basic things. The simple tasks of buying stamps or basic food items can take on a whole new meaning in a different language and culture. Learn to embrace the challenge, laugh at the mistakes and smile, and remember to ask for help when you need it.
3. Sociable and ready to interact with new people.
This may seem obvious but so many people underestimate the effort and time it takes to make new friends. We’re social beings and so social interaction is important for our general well-being. It is SO important to invest time and energy in building friendships abroad.
4. Tolerant and open-minded.
Of course you could decide to continue to do things as you would do them at “home”. But then you’d be missing out on the whole point of living abroad and the rich cultural experience of international living.
If you find yourself judging negatively the way things are done in your new location, take time to consider why you are viewing it that way. What are your personal cultural assumptions and perspectives and how do they influence how you perceive others? Take time to read about your new country and culture, develop an understanding of the history and influences that have created the culture in which you are now living.
You will discover a lot about other cultures but also a lot about yourself. Take time to notice how you feel and react to different and challenging situations. One of the benefits of living abroad is the personal growth that comes from relocation and all the associated challenges and experiences.
6. Positive and forward looking.
People who are successful in creating new lives abroad do so from a positive and forward looking perspective. This is not a call for an unrealistic positive mental attitude, this is more about reacting to problems and challenges in a proactive and resourceful way. You can prepare yourself to relocate with positivity by researching the opportunity thoroughly, understanding the challenges and setting realistic expectations.
7. Flexible and adaptable
Things will not go to plan all of the time; that is the first certainty of international relocation. Be prepared to be flexible and adapt your expectations accordingly.
“Resilience is generally defined as the ability to recover from and/or adjust to negative events or significant change”
Linda Janssen, The Emotionally Resilient Expat, Engage, Adapt and Thrive Across Cultures.
If you are pretty resilient already then you are well set up for the knocks of expat life. Moving abroad most certainly falls under the category of a “significant change”. Know that as you build your life abroad you are also building your general resilience for life!
Nurture these eight characteristics and attitudes and you will be well set up to cope with the challenges of expat life and build a successful life abroad.
Successful expats know that living overseas is a huge opportunity for personal growth, fun and adventure. At Thriving Abroad we help you to overcome expat challenges and create expat lives that you love. Come and join our Thriving Abroad community and sign up for engaging expat related content in our regular newsletters.