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Language lessons, new food and research - How to acclimatise before moving to another country

Adapting to a new country involves more than just packing your bags; it requires mental and emotional preparation, an open mind, and a willingness to embrace change.

Embarking on a journey to a foreign land is an exhilarating experience, filled with the promise of adventure, personal growth, and new beginnings. Moving to another country presents an opportunity to immerse oneself in a different culture, broaden horizons, and gain a fresh perspective on life. However, before you take the leap into this exciting chapter of your life, it's crucial to prepare yourself for the transition and ensure an easy acclimatisation process.

Steffi Hochgraef works for the BDAE since January and having lived some years in Bolivia, she knows first hand how hard it can be to get acclimatised.  Here's what she had to say on that subject:

If you decide to move abroad, either as part of a secondment or a new start-up, the normal things involved in moving, such as finding a company to manage the move or booking flights and accommodation, are the least of your problems. It is more important to be aware of what kind of environment you are moving into, what kind of cultural conditions you will be confronted with and whether it makes sense, for example, if you do not speak the language or only speak it a little, to improve or even learn it beforehand. Apart from a few other aspects, I think it is most important to fully commit to the new adventure. An exchange with other expats can also be useful.

For emigrants-to-be, has put together some advice on how to get started in your new life in your new country.

Whether you're moving for work, education, or simply seeking a new environment, these valuable tips will help you navigate the initial stages of acclimatization, making your transition as smooth as possible.

Property Guides’ top tips for acclimatising before moving to another country are:

1. Get familiar with your new environment

Although it may sound simple, doing your research is one of the most important things to do before you start your journey to your new home. There’s no such thing as doing too much research before moving abroad, as the more you know, the better prepared you’re going to be.

Gather research about the local area, look into local transport routes, places for you to purchase food, drink, or even furniture. Your research will allow you to familiarise yourself with your new home and surroundings before you get off of the plane.

2. Take up language lessons

If you’re moving to a new country which doesn’t speak the same language as you, it’s important that you begin to familiarise yourself with the language, whether that’s learning a few useful phrases, or aiming to become fluent, before you move.

For those who are unable to take up language lessons before the move, don’t fret! You’ll be able to take up language lessons once you’ve moved, whether by taking online classes, lessons through language apps, or even by attending a local, in-person, language lesson.

3. Beware of cultural differences

New country means new customs and habits to get used to. It’s in your best interest to research them before moving to avoid being inadvertently rude.

For example, did you know it is considered rude in Japan to leave chopsticks sticking up vertically in a bowl of rice? Or that making a thumbs up in some countries is the equivalent of giving someone the middle finger?

Furthermore, if you are moving to a new country for work, it might be wise to read about cultural and communication differences to fit best with your colleagues and thrive in your new position.

4. Prepare your finances

One thing that you must do before you move abroad is prepare your finances. First of all, ensure that you’ve set up a bank account local to the country that you’re moving to, as if you wait to set one up until after you’ve already moved, you may struggle with proving your address and income levels.

Almost as important as setting up your bank account, you need to sort out your pension too. Look into the different options, whether that’s paying into your UK pension from abroad, transferring your pension abroad, or depositing it into your bank account, to see which is the best option for you.

5. Enjoy some local cuisine

More than likely, once you’ve moved abroad, you’ll find that a lot of the commonly enjoyed and offered foods are far from what you’re used to having in your country of origin. Before beginning your new adventure, do some research to find out what local cuisines are commonly served and enjoyed in your new country, and gather the ingredients from your local supermarket.

If you’re not a confident cook, see if you can find any famous dishes online and hunt for them in restaurants local to you before you move.

6. Adjust your routine

Although it may sound silly, especially if you’re moving somewhere that’s just a couple of hours away via plane, however, you will still need to adjust your routine.

Whether you need to adjust your routine because of time differences, or because of the lifestyles and habits of the locals in your new area, it’s worth adjusting your routine before you move - even if you simply adjust all of your clocks to the time of your new home the week before you move.

This article is from the 2/2023 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.