1. Can You Handle The Cultural Differences?
No matter where you’re from and no matter what you’re doing, whether your new job is teaching English in Japan or working at a bank in London, where ever you’re going is not going to be like where you’re coming from. Even if you speak their language, there are going to be cultural differences and differences of opinion. They drive on the wrong side of the word or pronounce words differently than you’re used to. And heaven forbid you find yourself in some trouble one day and you say something like, “Well, that’s now how we do it in _______!” This seems like the most obvious thing, but most people are only familiar with their home surroundings, and when you’re leaving home to jump into a brand new place it’s human nature to try to recreate “home” wherever you are. Before you jump over to the other side of the pond, be sure you can mentally handle and engage with the cultural differences. Learn about your new culture.
2. What About Your Family, Friends And Loved Ones?
Chances are your new job won’t really allow you to come back to your home country all that often. So unless you already have the means, get ready for time differences and Skype calls and for being away from your BFFs on your birthday and other major holidays. Think, too, about how your move will impact your friend group as well as mom and dad. That and you’ll probably have to break it off with anyone you’re currently seeing.
3. Think Of It As A Fresh New Start
The exciting thing about moving to a new country is that in a lot of ways you get to totally reinvent yourself. There are a couple junctures in life that make this more feasible than others — graduating high school and going off to college and moving to a brand new place. It’s hard to shake a reputation once you have one, so that’s why moving to a new place is your chance to get a new thing going. Maybe you hated being the shy chick, but this new move you’re making might just force you out of your shell after all. And what better time to come out?
4. Be Absolutely Certain You Understand The Cost Of Living Versus Your Salary
Sometimes the allure of a fabulous job abroad is enough to make us want to drop everything and move at all costs. But you need to be sure you can actually afford to live in your new city based on what you’re getting paid. And if it looks like it’s going to be tight, figure out what luxuries you can live without for the time being so you can live reasonably well in your new place. There’s nothing worse than living someplace fabulous and not being able to afford to do anything.
5. Get A Roommate For Your First Year
I’m the last person to tell anyone to get a roommate, but when I was living in Paris last summer I didn’t know very many people and I was lonely a lot of the time. Not miserable, just lonely. Getting a roommate for your first several months or even year in your new country will help you save money and get more bang for your buck. But you will automatically be in a social environment, so it’s a lot harder to sit in your room all day and cry because you don’t have any friends. Chances are your roommates will have friends and you will probably make friends with their friends, and it will all be just like the first few weeks at camp until you start making your own circle of friends. And even if you hate your roommates by the end of your first year, hopefully you’ll have made some new friends or can go out on your own to find your own place.
6. Think About How Your New Job Fits Into Your Long-Term Career Plan
Are you moving abroad just because it’s cute? Or do you have some other end game? Are you hoping to stay in your host country indefinitely, settling down and starting a brand new life there? Whatever your reasons for taking a job abroad, make sure that it fits into how you see your long-term career shaping up, even if you don’t exactly know what it looks like yet.
7. Don’t Be “Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind”
There may come a time when all you want is to move back to your home country. Or maybe not. And while extensive work abroad can look great on your future job or law school applications, you should make sure not to fall into the trap of “out of sight, out of mind.” Make sure that people in your industry in your home country still know about you. If you’re a writer, keep writing for U.S. magazines and journals and if you’re moving to Spain, build your profile and platform in Spain while keeping your U.S. profile in tact. Don’t just drop off the face of the earth in your home country. Nothing raises your caché more than widening your platform, which is exactly what taking a job abroad is supposed to do.
8. As Soon As You Decide To Go, Stop Spending Money Immediately
Stop eating out. Eat ramen, drink tap water. Recycle your clothes over and over. You will need every penny to get you settled, especially if you’re dealing with unfavorable exchange rates. The literal worst!