7 Things to Consider when Emigrating ...

Emigrating to a new country? It is an exciting and nerve-wracking experience at the same time. Here are a few golden emigration tips by guest contributor Kelly Rondinelli.

Emigrating is a huge undertaking in life. Not only is there the actual moving (the endless packing of suitcases and boxes) but there’s also lots of little things that you somehow forget and which eventually catch up with you (cancelling your phone contract being one!) Once you’ve wrapped up everything at one end, you’ve then got to face the challenges in the new country. Here’s a list of some of the challenges you’ll face during the process of emigrating, and a little advice on how best to deal with them.

1. Paperwork

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This seems like an odd thing to start with but paperwork regarding your emigration doesn’t end as soon as you touch base in the new country. This is particularly true if you are applying for a visa; this can take months and months and with such a long, drawn out process, it can become really frustrating.

Speaking from personal opinion, the best advice I can give is to do your bit and let the rest go. If you’ve completed all your payments and your forms on time, or ahead of schedule, that’s all you can do. Organizations responsible for your visa and other paperwork have their own time frames and there’s really nothing to do but wait patiently. Take the time you now have free (as you’ve left your worries at the door) and invest it in yourself; you’ll need to take care of yourself now, while you get the chance, especially as you’ll be super busy in your new country of residence.

2. Medical Examinations/ Vaccinations

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This ties in with the point above, but it deserves to be discussed in its own right, especially considering how these examinations can make you feel. Visas often require the applicant to have a thorough medical examination, internal and external, which can be very uncomfortable (trust me, I’ve been there). Many countries also require that you have certain vaccinations before emigrating for your own health assurance.

Both of these are quite invasive for the applicant, and the process of going through them can leave you feeling emotionally exhausted and physically drained, particularly those of us who dislike professionals touching and prodding our bodies! Here, the best advice I can give is to be prepared; know what type of medical examination you need and book in early. Mentally prepare yourself, go in and get it done and dusted. That way, if there are any problems, you’ll have time to sort them out. The same goes for vaccinations. This helps financially as well, as it gives you time to put aside that little extra cash needed to pay for the privilege of the injections!

3. Language Barrier

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So you’ve finally got on the plane and landed in your new country of residence. You’ve probably already considered the language barriers you’ll face. But reality really hits home when you find that you’re disorientated in your new surroundings and suddenly all your abilities at speaking, for example, French, go out of the window. Don’t panic. In such situations, it’s best to be yourself. I know that seems like unlikely advice to give, but if people can see you’re trying your best they are much more likely to take the time to help you out. Hey, at least you’re giving their language a go!

The language barrier doesn’t disappear overnight; in fact it’s often still around many months later, especially in new situations you haven’t yet faced. Remember, smile, try your best and you’ll be rewarded with others' patience.

4. Starting All over

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This includes several items on your to-do list; find a new phone provider and get a new contract, learn to drive, find the bus routes in the meantime, the local train/tram lines if you’re commuting, the nearest supermarket to do your food shopping. Oh, what about the doctors because you’ve forgotten your hayfever pills? It’s really surprising how much you take for granted in your home country.

The best thing to do in this situation is to prioritize. When I moved, I knew finding the bus routes was more important than setting up my phone (I could always use my I-pad at the nearest Starbucks/internet café). Next, I signed up to a doctor’s surgery, sorted out health insurance whilst I was there, and wrote down the address and telephone number in my new address book (handy to get one of these). Then I sorted out my bank accounts, then my phone and so on. Writing a priority list is a really helpful thing to do; it calms you right down. Work your way through it at your own pace; you’ll find that every-time you tick off an item you’ll feel like you’re making progress…because you are!

5. Customs

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Getting used to new customs can also be quite stressful. I, for example, didn’t know about tipping everyone because in my home country you leave a tip at a restaurant, but you don’t for a taxi ride home. The price on the tag is the price full stop; we don’t have to mentally add taxes. I used to be able to walk across a busy road even when the little man was red, not green.

Such customs of your new home country can be a little daunting at first, especially if you are not aware of them. But you’ll soon grow used to them. The best thing you can do is ask; you’ll have a neighbor who’ll know. Or search the Internet to get a better idea. It’s better to know such customs in advance. There’s really nothing worse than not doing it right and feeling guilty about it afterwards.

6. Sense of Being out of Place

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This is particularly evident if you can’t speak the native language, or you’re racially different. Perhaps the very way in which you dress is a little out of place, or maybe the way you greet people is unusual. Perhaps you speak the same language but use some words differently; their meaning to you is completely different to the meaning in your new place of residence.

Feeling out of place, or a little different compared to everyone else, is completely normal. At first it can be difficult but you need to learn to love it. Being different is part of the charm of emigrating, and people love you for it. Having moved to the States from the UK, I am always asked about my accent. Speaking with a British twang makes me stand out from the crowd and, in all honesty, it seems to mean that more people want to talk to me and help me. Embrace your differences and embrace the characteristics of your home. You are where you come from and you should be proud of that.

7. Loneliness

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Finally, one thing to be really aware of when emigrating is the feeling of loneliness. It will come to you at some point, even if you’ve moved across with someone. There will be an occasion where you want to share something with someone you love, or you’re lost and can’t read a sign and get frustrated at not being Miss Independence as much as you used to be. There’ll be evenings where you would normally have hung out with friends but you’ve yet to meet any new people because you’ve been busy sorting out your life.

Again, this is perfectly normal. But, the advice here is to be proactive. You need to get out there and meet new people, make new friends. Go to a local coffee shop and get chatting. Visit a gallery or enroll in a night class. Find a local book club. Go to the gym. You’ll meet people in all of these settings and more, and this will help your confidence grow. Capture those moments you want to share and save them for later; the people who love you will want to hear about them and by talking about them, you’ll feel reconnected in no time.

Remember that emigrating is a big challenge, but, despite all the obstacles you’ll face, like those listed above, it’s a very rewarding experience. And it’s an experience that you’ll learn from, making you a stronger and more independent person. You’ll have moments of doubt but by continuing to be yourself, you’ll make it through and before you know it, you’ll be thinking that the new country you now reside in, feels like home. Have you faced the challenges of emigrating? Tell us below.

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