Expat Guide

Things You Should Know

There is a great post on our forum by one of our members, who moved to the UK over 15 years ago. There are many things that people don't think about when considering moving, being excited and/or in love and naturally they can be carried away by that. After seeing people post about their struggles on our forums for almost a decade, she made some good observations.

"You can move here and make a life and be happy, but there are some things that I think would be a good idea to ask yourself.

  • Are you open minded? Moving to a new country is remarkable experience, but you need to be able to look at things from a different viewpoint than the one you were raised with. You're going to meet people with different backgrounds, opinions and ways of doing things. You need to accept that the American way is not the only way.
  • Are you set in your ways? Things are different here. Schools, hospitals, banking and work practices are just a few of the many things that you're going to run up against that are 'not the way we do it'. You have to be willing to learn how things work if you are going function in a country that is totally not like your own
  • Are you diplomatic? You're going to come across people who are critical of your country and its government. You are going to need to keep your cool and talk yourself out of some situations where you feel uncomfortable. You're also going to have learn when someone's only joking and when someone's serious about this.
  • Are you good at watching and listening? You need to learn everything. The best way to do this is to watch other people, see how they do things without telling them how you think it should be done.
  • Are you a homebody? If you've never left the place where you were born, if you're very close to your family, then it's going to be difficult. Really difficult. You need to be prepared to have years between visits home, you need to be prepared to not see parents, siblings and nieces and nephews. The most difficult part of being an expat is having bad things-death, illness, accidents-happen and not being able to be there. You're going to miss good things too-weddings, births, family parties. And not all family and friends are good about keeping in touch. A lot of expats feel abandoned by their families when they move.
  • Do you have family support? You need your family to be behind you in a supportive non-judgemental way. It's not impossible without this, but it sure makes it easier.
  • Are you determined? It's not easy making friends here. British people tend to make friends young and hang onto them for life. You can make friends but it will take determination and a thick skin on your part. You need to be outgoing and proactive.
  • Are you adventurous? You'll have to take buses and trains, and go to unfamiliar places. Everyone will be a stranger to you. You have got to be brave or you'll never leave the house.
  • Is your career everything to you? Because it's not always easy to find a job in your field and a lot of people have had to take jobs that they were vastly overqualified for. And not all degrees and qualifications automatically transfer. It takes a lot of perseverance to find the right job for you."

Read the original post with further comments and suggestions from people who have already experienced it.

See Also Things about the UK you wish you had known.


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