Helloooo lovely hoomans!
Today I’m doing a collab with the lovely Third Culture Kid, where we’ll be sharing our experience and tips of adjusting to other countries. You can check our her blog here! Both of us have definitely had some experience with moving overseas, and adjusting to another country can be quite a process so we thought we’d share that whole journey with you, as well as some tips that we picked up along the way. Personally, I’ll be sharing my experience of adjusting to life in England.
For all of you to know quite how interesting my adjustment was, you have to know where I’m from – I was born and bred in South Africa! So, while moving to England wasn’t too terrifying in some ways, it was also so different in other ways. There are some similarities between the two countries, because England did colonise South Africa way back when, which has obviously left some impact. So in some ways, things are quite similar because a lot of South Africa and its systems were modelled after the British.
That is where the similarities end though.
Adjusting to living up in the north of England was definitely an experience, not negative in any sense but definitely one with some twists and surprises. Firstly, you don’t realise quite how much sun you normally get until it’s gone. I’m not kidding – vitamin D deficiencies up there are a real thing and after living in one of the sunniest places in the world most of my life to a country that is known for its grey cloud coverage and drizzle is quite a shock to the system. It was cold, and quite grey, which certainly took a lot of getting used to, but once you get over the initial shock, with the right amount of layers, a waterproof jacket and some vitamin D pills it’s really not so bad.
When it came to adjusting to way of life there, that was surprisingly easy. In fact, it happened so naturally I didn’t really notice until I came home. Walking everywhere just became what I did, so was grocery shopping once a week with my friends or just popping into a pub or a cafe on the way home after a lecture.
I think what made adjusting to life in England so easy though was the people I was with. It wasn’t like I was thrown into the deep end such as having to start a new job in a new city living all by myself and knowing no one. With university though, it made the transition quite smooth and gradual. I already knew a few people from chatting on university social media groups and I wasn’t living alone. I moved into a flat with both local and international students and that helped me adjust to life in England in such an easy way because it was fun and I got to do it with friends.
Adjusting to a new country can be a really scary experience because everything is new and you may not be sure what to do or who to turn to, but it can also be such a fun and eye-opening experience if you’re open to it. That’s why I will leave you with the following tips:
1. Try everything – don’t be afraid to try new things and see how they are because you’ll never know until you try and you may just discover your new favourite thing.
2. Don’t be shy – yes it can be scary meeting new people but the only way for them to become friends and for you to make connections with them is to open up and try to connect and make friends with them so don’t let your nerves stop you from making new friends.
3. Ask for help – it can be embarrassing to admit when you don’t know something or aren’t sure what to do and need help, but sadly the only way you’ll ever stop struggling with those issues is if you swallow your pride and actually ask your help. You’ll adjust much faster and avoid lots of stress and problems simply by learning when to admit you can’t do something on your own or may need to ask for help or advice.
4. Take things one step at a time – you can’t suddenly become a local with a snap of your fingers, and getting used to a new country with a new culture takes time so you need to be okay with just taking things one step at a time. If you pace yourself and don’t overwhelm yourself, you’ll find you adjust far better and actually enjoy and appreciate the experience more than if you try to get it all in at once, where there is more chance you’ll just stress yourself out.
5. Go out and explore – the only way to truly adjust is to experience where you’re living and the best way to do that is to go out and be a part of it. Walk through your new city, try the restaurants and cafes, speak to the locals, or go enjoy your lunch in the park rather than in your room. By going out and just getting a taste of everything your new home has to offer, you can get a feel for it and start to appreciate it and once you become more familiar with your surroundings, it will also help you adjust and feel comfortable where you are.
Right, now it’s time for me to hand over and let my wonderful blogging friend complete this post!
Hello everyone! Thanks to Tia for this lovely collab! It will take a while for me to go through my life story, so if you’re interested, you can read my blog too. I’m what is known as a Third Culture Kid which means that before I was 18, I lived in countries that weren’t my parents’ culture. I’m currently living in Canada, which is the fifth country I have lived in, but I am also in transition to the Netherlands at the moment. Being exposed to living in other countries from a young age was not only fun, but I learned some important life skills. One reason I started my blog was to show people what it’s really like to live in other countries and I believe in being transparent about it. Here are my personal tips for living in other countries:
- Find the hidden gems- Bouncing off what Tia said about exploring and trying new things, you will find the most beautiful gems in the most unexpected places. Culture is flowing and you will find it if you look hard enough and really think about the meaning behind it. It’s all very well going to a museum, but it’s important to discuss what you have learned from it. It’s amazing to go with other people who love the same thing and you can talk about it a lot.
- Learn how to manage your finances- Every country has its own unique systems when it comes to money, and it can take a while to adapt to it. Good personal financial practises will serve you well when adjusting to another country, but be flexible! It’s fine to be frugal, but you CANNOT be cheap! Sometimes, you’ll need to pay for things you didn’t think you had to pay for. Sometimes, you have to cough up money and you just have to deal with it. You can’t avoid financial problems in another country, but once you get through them, you will feel so good about yourself! One way you know you have adapted is if you can automatically convert currencies in your head for a rough estimate.
- Think you don’t need health insurance or consider the healthcare system of your new country? Think again!- I have been in situations where I couldn’t qualify for healthcare in new countries, or didn’t get enough health insurance coverage. That landed me in deep doo-doo! You might say you’re okay with certain things about a new country’s healthcare system. When you’re actually living there, you may realise you’re not okay with certain things. I have moved countries because me or my parents couldn’t get the care we needed. So make sure you know the reality of your new healthcare system and do NOT under-insure yourself when you get health insurance!
- Understand that your emotions are going to be a rollercoaster sometimes and take care of yourself mentally- Your feelings are totally valid. If you need mental health care, go for it! Try to find a counsellor who is at least open to discussing issues you are having adjusting to another country. Additionally, find people that you can talk to honestly about any problems you have. They will usually be people who have lived in other countries before. Sometimes, some well-meaning monocultural people (people who have lived in one place all their life) can say some things that will upset you. There are times in my life when I know I can only talk to people who really understand, like other Third Culture Kids. I also recommend seeking out books, movies and other entertainment you can relate to and keep them as a go-to when you’re going through a rough time.
- Remember: It’s ALWAYS worth it to live in another country!- There will come a time when things will either work out for you, or they won’t. If a country works out for you, that’s wonderful! If it doesn’t and you have to try again, or go back home, that’s perfectly fine. People say a place doesn’t make any difference to your life. That’s incorrect! You will gain so much from living in another country and it will serve you well in the future. It’s easy to think that you have failed if a country doesn’t work out, but that’s not true at all. I am currently in the process of moving to another country because Canada hasn’t worked out for me. I’m experienced with living in other countries, and I accepted that a country not working out can happen to anyone. I have gained some wonderful things from Canada, and I am always learning what I really want from a country.