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Preparing for Your International Move

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Prepare for Your International Move

Statistics Canada estimates 1.1 million Canadian citizens were living abroad in the 21st century. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts this trend will continue as Canadians temporarily leave their homeland for work or personal reasons.

If you plan to join that number, it can be an exciting and hopeful time. However, once you arrive at your destination, you may feel anxious in your new surroundings. Use the tips below to alleviate culture shock and enjoy your new home.

Plan in Advance
The most important thing you can do? Start early. Life tends to get busy at the most inconvenient moments, so don’t let those hurdles trip you. If you start planning at least 4 months in advance, you will find yourself and your family much more relaxed and prepared than others who try to pack everything in a shorter timeframe.

If you don’t have 4 months before your move, don’t panic. Just start as soon as you can. While you might be able to pack your belongings in a few days, other tasks will take longer since you don’t control their timeline.

Hire reputable movers who can transport your belongings safely to wherever you need. Professionals can help you organize, plan, and prioritize what you should bring and what needs to stay behind. Advanced preparation will make your move’s lead-up more relaxing. That means that you’ll feel fresh, not frazzled, when you step off the plane.

Take a Language Class
Many expatriates find themselves a little lost when they arrive in their new home. For many, the language barrier prevents them from enjoying the area to the fullest. Immersing yourself in the language will help you learn it, but you can start before you leave if you take a language class.

Even if you move to a country that primarily speaks English, you may want to research your specific area to see if there are other prominent languages. For example, some Australian cities contain large Chinese populations, and you could communicate with neighbours more fluently if you know their primary language.

With some research and a language class, you can start communicating the moment you arrive instead of a few months afterward.

Even if you know the language, most classes will include cultural material in addition to the language curriculum. Find a class that discusses your new home’s common foods, literature, popular culture, and non-verbal communication signals.

Prepare for Culture Shock
Your language class can also help you prepare for culture shock. If you know what to expect, you tend to accept the new culture more easily. However, you can do a few more things to alleviate culture shock during your first few months abroad.

Bring Comfort Items
As you pack, you might find yourself throwing out items you feel will clutter up your new life. While this is a fantastic packing tool (and you need to make some hard choices on what you can feasibly bring), save some of your favourites—even if they just take up room.

Your favourite blanket, pillow, and photos can make your new house seem like your home. Wonderful new foods will surround you, and you should take advantage of them. Before you leave, learn how to make your go-to Canadian dishes.

Get Invested in Your Surroundings
New surroundings can feel overwhelming. Your bed might tempt you to stay inside rather than face a community you don’t understand yet. Force yourself to participate in the community within the first week of your arrival. Visit a local museum, join a gym, get lunch with a co-worker, or participate in a book club. Whatever you choose, make sure that you meet new people and get out of your comfort zone.

You can take that first step before you even leave Canada: schedule an appointment for three days after you arrive. Make sure it’s an important appointment that you cannot miss. That way, you will force your future self out of the house—and it will help overcome your jet lag.

Plan Your Communication Style
Even as you participate in community events and get to know your neighbours, you'll want to stay in touch. Therefore, make a communication plan with friends and family before you head out.

Schedule weekly emails, buy a calling card, purchase a mobile phone, or use online calling features. Whatever your communication choice, make sure that you can get in touch. When you can speak with your friends and family at the touch of a button, you won’t feel so removed from them, and that is one of the most effective ways to reduce the possibility of getting homesick.

You can alleviate your culture shock—and stress levels—with these guidelines. You can also find more useful tips in our other blogs. Consult our website to make your move a stress-free experience.