Five Tips for Happily Living in Asia
If you’re planning on moving abroad, whether for the long term or the short term, you might find yourself drawn to Asia, where the cost of living is generally pretty cheap and jobs for English speakers tend to pay pretty well. However, if you’re headed to Asia from the West, you’ll find that there are differences in everything from food and etiquette to real estate and business. It can be challenging to get into the rhythm of the place you’ve chosen as your new home, but it’s infinitely rewarding to find yourself feeling comfortable in a place that once felt so foreign. Here are five tips to smooth your transition:
1. Do your research…within reason.
Of course, you’ll want to do a little research before you up and move to a different country, but that said, you shouldn’t do an excess of research. It’s good to know information about the climate and the basic customs of the country, but you’ll learn a lot more about the culture from being actively immersed in it than you’ll learn from a book or a website. People are generally pretty accepting of the fact that, as a foreigner, you may not know all the customs of the country, and although they may correct you, they often won’t be too harsh.
2. Set up a VPN on your computer and devices.
If you’re planning to go to China, you may have heard about the so-called Great Firewall—government censorship of the internet that blocks access to many sites, including Facebook and other social media sites. In reality, many countries in Asia have poor internet censorship ratings; it’s not just China! A VPN will create a secure connection to the internet and will mask your true IP address, making it appear as though you were accessing the internet from somewhere outside the country you’re really in. By using one, you can easily bypass governmental restrictions.
3. Get on a schedule for keeping in touch with people back home.
You may find that your relationships with people back home become a bit of a challenge when you live abroad. Between differences in time zones and the inability to meet each other face-to-face, you’ll need to put in some effort to ensure that your relationships with friends and family don’t totally fizzle out. If you get yourself on a schedule for contacting them, not only will it motivate you to sit down and write that email or call them, but it can also stop a constant flow of messages asking if you’re still alive and what you’ve been up to in the previous day.
4. Get in touch with other expats.
It may seem a bit backwards to move abroad and get in touch with other expats, but having a group of expats who you’re connected with will give you a support network of people who are going through the same things as you. They may be able to offer useful advice on the logistics of life in your new country, and if you feel yourself getting a bit homesick, it can be nice to have someone to talk to who understands exactly what you’re going through.
5. Actively explore, but don’t stress yourself out.
Living in a foreign country is a lot different than just traveling there on vacation. Of course, you’ll want to get out and see the place you’re living in—after all, the culture is probably a big part of why you’re living there! That said, if you’re living there and working or studying, it may not be realistic to go out sightseeing all day, every day. And even if you have the time, if you try to go out to see something every single day, you might find yourself feeling a bit burnt out. It’s totally normal to take a weekend to relax around the house, just as it would be back home. The last thing you want is to feel as if sightseeing is a chore!
Moving abroad, especially to a place that’s incredibly different from home, is the start of an exciting adventure, but it can be a bit nerve-wracking to make the transition. With a little research and patience though, you can begin to get immersed in the way of life in your new home.
About the Author: Jess Signet
She is an avid traveler and enjoys writing about her adventures. Knowing there’s more to the world than the bubble she lives in makes her want to travel even further. Traveling is her drug, and she’s addicted. (Please, no intervention!)