Leaving home can be quite the challenge, but especially when you’re headed abroad. And whether you’re going to travel for a few weeks, take a course abroad for a few months, or move indefinitely for work, you’ll find that the beginning is full of unexpected, new things that may leave you a little shocked. Depending on your personality and past experiences, you may take these challenges in stride and move on, but you might hit some roadblocks in certain areas.
When you head abroad to a new place (or even to a place you’ve been before, but have never lived!), it can be quite overwhelming. After all, as soon as you arrive, you’re facing lots of decisions and things to do. Do you have health insurance? Where’s the nearest grocery store? Is your immigration status all set or do you need to register with city hall? Oh, and have you set up a bank account yet?
Because adapting to a new environment abroad generally speaking and a new tech environment go hand in hand, we’ll start by covering an overview of tips for moving abroad and then dive into tech-specific tricks that will help you excel in any situation abroad. Ready?
Moving Abroad: Why?
Well, there might be one more thing to tackle before we dive into tips for once you arrive abroad. After all, your move came from one big decision: taking that step to try something new and head to another country. Why would techies decide to move abroad? What benefits does living abroad offer? There’s a lot of reasons.
Tech professionals decide to move abroad because:
Lots of bootcamps are offered internationally, giving you the chance to kickstart your tech career while simultaneously exploring a new place, learning a new language, and experiencing a new culture.
The vast majority of tech roles are remote, which means you can work from anywhere! You can even pick multiple destinations if you can’t decide on just one; becoming a digital nomad is a great way to explore the world while still earning a paycheck.
The skills taught around the world vary significantly and by heading to a new place, you might discover a need that exists in another country that simply isn’t relevant in your home country or you could learn about a completely new way of learning that will help your work at home.
Benefits of living abroad include:
The chance to hone your foreign language skills; even if you won’t reach fluency during your time abroad, developing language skills is an incredible benefit of living abroad. Even conversational levels of a foreign language can help spice up your resume and set you apart from other candidates. And, of course, it’s a useful and cool skill to have!
Facing a whole new set of challenges; no matter what you’ve accomplished so far in both your personal and professional lives, there’s nothing like that moment when you realize you’ve arrived and you’re on your own. If you don’t speak the language, you’ll be faced with even more difficulties with even the simplest of tasks; ordering coffee or asking directions successfully will become a triumph in and of itself.
Getting a whole new perspective on life; seeing how people live and work in completely new and different circumstances will open your eyes to so much. And you might even learn something! Watching for new and interesting ways of doing this may tip you off to something you could incorporate into your life once you’re back home.
Alright, you get it. Moving abroad is a great choice, no matter why or for how long. So now that you’ve got Google Flights open, let’s cover some basic tips for moving abroad that will help you with all the basic stuff.
Adapting to a New Environment Abroad
We’ve said it before and we’ll never stop saying it: moving abroad is tough. Your friends who’ve gone abroad might have just posted their beach pictures with their Aperol Spritz’, but that’s not an accurate portrayal of life abroad. In fact, most people you talk to will openly discuss their struggles, especially when they first arrived. But there are ways to combat these difficulties and make your abroad experience the absolute best it can be. Let’s dive right in:
Be open-minded: you’ve heard this before, we’re sure, but we truly mean it; being open minded can make the difference between a fun few months and lonely weeks that feel like a lifetime. Even if you don’t usually take part in a certain activity at home, say yes abroad! Try new things, find ways to meet people and interact with locals, and fully engage with your surroundings.
Make an effort to connect with the locals: heading abroad with friends or coworkers makes the process a bit easier, and you may find expats upon arrival, even if you moved alone. As tempting as it is to just stick with people from your country or that speak your language, branching out and trying to meet new people, especially locals, will make your experience so much more enriching.
Try to adapt to local customs: listen, we’re not saying you need to fully adapt every single custom of your new home, but doing your research before you arrive can help you be prepared to handle cultural differences and not accidentally offend anyone. And when you can, try to adapt your normal habits to those of where you are, which will help you fit in--a social and safety benefit.
Put yourself out there: it’s tempting to just curl up in bed and watch Netflix on a Friday night when you don’t know anyone, but putting yourself out there and trying to meet people is an absolutely crucial part of heading abroad. Use local meetup apps or groups or reach out to organizations of which you’d like to be part, such as soccer teams or running groups.
Find a balance with connecting to home: you’ll miss your friends and family and probably even your dog--but be careful about over-communicating with those at home. Not only will this just strengthen your feelings of loneliness and homesickness, but it will also prevent you from truly experiencing life abroad and forming a life there.
Adapting to a New Tech Environment Abroad
Great! You’ve arrived, you’re settled, and now it’s time to get started in a new tech environment abroad. While you think that coding languages are universal (hint: you’re right, they are!), there are lots of other factors that might affect your day-to-day as either a tech student or a tech professional. Don’t believe us? We’ll show you what we mean.
Research workplace customs
Your last job or school could have been very laid back or relaxed, or it could have demanded an extremely strict dress code and adherence to breaks. Depending on where you’re from, this may change when you head abroad; before you arrive, do some research to familiarize yourself with what life will be like studying or working in a new country. Try to get answers to these questions from social media, contacts you have abroad, or internet research:
What is the dress code like, generally speaking? Are there any articles of clothing that would be seen as offensive or inappropriate in a workplace/school setting?
What are traditional working hours? Is punctuality a cultural norm and you’re expected to never be even a minute late, or are you given some leeway?
What’s the culture like surrounding food? How long is your lunch break? Is it considered rude or disrespectful to eat or drink while at your desk?
Your internet research will help you get answers to some of these questions, but not all. If you still have doubts heading into your first day or week, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification; more likely than not, everyone will be very helpful. And if you’re not totally comfortable looking to others for help, be observant the first week and see what you can learn from just watching those around you.
Be smart with your safety
You may be coming from a place where you could leave your bag open on the floor while you head to lunch or walk home with your headphones playing music and your phone in your hand, but that may not be the best choice in your new city. Even if your new home has a reputation for being safe, be cautious at first. Odds are you’ll look like a tourist for at least a little bit, if not the entire time, and it’s best to not draw attention to yourself. Here are our tips and tricks:
Get in the habit of dropping your work materials off at home after work if you’re headed out; if you don’t live close, it may be better to leave your computer in the locked office overnight instead of walking around with it daily.
Be aware of your surroundings and try to fit in with those around you, especially during your first few weeks.
Trust your gut and research areas to avoid and the best places to live/walk.
Make copies of all your important documents and carry the copy around with you instead of the actual document: passport, visa, IDs, and anything that you wouldn’t want to lose.
Get ready to think outside the box
Even if you’re the world’s most experienced professional and you’re totally well-versed in every tool on the planet, you’re still going to experience some differences and it’s best to be fully prepared for them. People are products of the environments in which they’re raised and being ready to tackle new ways of thinking, new meeting etiquette, and ways of handling conflict may be something you didn’t expect at all.
Make an effort to fit in
Regardless of your new location, the vast majority of companies operate primarily in English. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to at least learn some basic words in the local language, greeting your coworkers in their language and showing them that you’re trying to fit in. After all, if they’re making an effort to speak to you in your native language, why not do the same?
Are you ready to excel while living abroad?! No matter if you’re headed overseas for work or studying, it will be a challenge, but one you’re totally equipped for. Now that you’re convinced, check out our bootcamps and take advantage of any of our awesome campuses to get that abroad experience while kickstarting your tech career.