When first moving abroad, it is common for expats to feel a range of emotions. The chance to immerse oneself in a new country and culture is simultaneously exhilarating and daunting- a new lifestyle!
The initial adjustment period is often the most difficult. Leaving behind friends and family is always tough, however exciting the possibility of making new ones can be. In their first few months many expats will try to connect with the existing British community to form bonds as well as bank on their experience and advice.
Though this is certainly a good way to get settled and take care of the practical issues like finding a house, school and where to get a good curry, in the long term you need to get to know the local culture.
Learning the local language is the first and most frustrating step in this process. You may have never had any prior exposure to the local language, meaning even ordering food in a restaurant or navigating road signs can be difficult.
However challenging it may seem at first, the long-term benefits easily outweigh the drawbacks. The rewards are not only a better understanding and appreciation of the nuances of your adopted home, but also new friends and contacts. While you will often find a large expat community in any given country, especially based around British schools, it would be a shame to move to another country and try to vicariously live in the UK.
If you have or are planning to have children, choosing to send them to a local or British school can be a difficult decision. Most people prefer to stay abreast of developments in the UK education system and send their children to a Britsh school, thereby also ensuring a better chance of getting them into a British university. However the benefits of sending children, especially very young ones, to a local school are numerous. Not only does it allow you to better get to know people from the local community but it enables your children to develop deep-seated language skills that may prove invaluable later in life. A good compromise is to send them to a local school until they are around fourteen-sixteen, then enroll them in a British school for GCSEs and A-Levels.
Life overseas can often be a strange hybrid between recreating or seeking out what you miss in the U.K. while trying to absorb as much of the local colour as possible. Who would want to miss out on cherry blossoms in Tokyo, Mediterranean beaches, Paris in the autumn or surfing and skiing in the same day in Sydney? But what would these things be without proper tea, pubs, the BBC or the premier league?
Once settled expats often find that they would prefer to remain and even retire in their adopted homes. The combination of strong ties to U.K. through the expat community, better career opportunities, lower house prices and a vibrant local culture often mean expats enjoy the best of both worlds.
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