Moving anywhere is always going to be a stressful and daunting experience, but when you are moving halfway across the world to a culture that differs so much to your own, it can get overwhelming. So, if a move to Asia is on the horizon, you need to be prepared for what you have in store. Of course, you only fully come to appreciate a place once you move there, but there are still plenty of things that you can do to ease your transition. You are entering a world where language and cultural barriers will become a part of your day to day life, but so too will unforgettable experiences, no matter which part of the continent you are planning on making your home.
Here, we will give you an overview of some of the things that you should consider before making the big move.
If you have not yet got a specific country in mind you are moving to, it is worth doing some general research to check out the different options that you have in front of you. Some places have much more established western communities while in others, you may be entering a world which has not had a great deal of western influence. Everything depends on what you are looking for. Ideally, you will visit the place before you move there, though obviously this is not always possible when you are travelling such huge distances.
Decide Your Purpose
What is the reason that you are travelling to Asia in the first place? This will greatly affect where you decide to move. If you are a student, you will want a city with great educational institutions, an exciting nightlife and plenty to do and see. If you are planning to work in Asia, you will want to check out things like visa regulations, work culture, salary, benefits, and cost of living. If you intend to go as a volunteer, you will need a place which requires the type of skills which you have to offer. Now, it is much easier to narrow down your search depending on your individual requirements. This will also determine what type of visa you are applying for and how difficult it is to obtain.
Explore Where to Go
Once of the draws of living in Asia for many people is the opportunity to learn a foreign language, so you should think about which one will benefit you the most in your future life in terms of opportunities. But when you are picking a destination, your resume isn’t the only thing that you should be thinking about – you also want to go to a place where the people and culture interest you. Essentially, you should be looking for a destination which has multiple ‘pull factors’. Of course, cost of living is important, but so too is quality of life. Opportunities are also important. For example, if you are planning on teaching English, China is a country which has a lower standard of entry for people with little teaching experience in comparison to nations like Japan and South Korea. However, the salary will end up being much lower. Ultimately, everything depends on your current skill levels as well as your priorities.
Read About Your Chosen Country
Now that you have chosen a country, the time has come to go into more detail about it. Try to read some accounts of people who are currently living there or those who have been there in the past. There is bound to be plenty of them online. If there is a particular aspect of living in this new country that worries you, this is what you should be researching the most. Having said that, you don’t want to dwell on the negatives to make yourself worry unnecessarily. Of course, you are always going to discover new things once you arrive in your destination, but giving yourself a head start is always going to be a good thing.
Make as Many Preparations as Possible Before You Go
To smooth the transition to your new country, you should aim to make as many preparations as you can. So, if you are going as a student, you should aim to register for your course and look for accommodation before you arrive. If you are working or volunteering, you may be able to organise your place of work before you depart. Choosing your accommodation, whether this is a shared flat or a service apartment, is a good task to get done before you leave so you are not in a situation where you are stuck in temporary accommodation and will not be able to settle into your new life at the earliest possible opportunity.
Another useful preparation which you can make before leaving is to start picking up the local language. Even if you only learn the basics, this can go a long way to making your life that little bit easier. There are plenty of free services out there like Duolingo which will help you to pick up the basics so you can at least communicate on a level that helps you in your day to day life.
Make Contacts in Asia Ahead of Time
The internet has made it a lot easier to make contacts ahead of time, so you can ensure that you have some friendly faces to meet you before you arrive. It may be some students who are already at the university you will be studying at, future co-workers or simply people living in the same city. There are likely to be a whole host of forums and discussion groups that you can join. Pretty much every city you visit all over the world has an expat group which you can get involved in. Otherwise, you could research clubs and hobbies, so you can transfer your interests from back home directly to your new country.
Building up a support network is one of the most challenging parts of living in a new country, but if you can get a head start on this before the move, you will make settling in so much easier. It is generally easier to make friends with foreigners at first unless you speak the local language. As well as this, you all have a shared experience of trying to establish a life in a new culture. The longer you live in a place, the more likely it is that you will begin to make local friends. Of course, you have to be the one who is willing to put in that extra effort to learn the language and more about the culture so you can accommodate them rather than the other way around.
Prepare for a Different Way of Life
Now that you have made all your logistical preparations and you have researched as much as you can about your new country, now all you have to do is prepare for a different way of life. If you have never been to Asia before, you will undoubtedly experience some degree of culture shock. But if you are willing to embrace the differences rather than resisting them, you will find that you have a much more enjoyable experience overall. Over time, you will find that these differences are the most fascinating part of making a life in Asia. Some people love it so much that they decide to settle out there for the long-term.