Living Overseas: The First Two Weeks

The first two weeks in a new place can seal the deal for most people. We usually tend to decide if we like a place or not based on our initial observations. Use your first few days to set the right tone. Remember and apply the quote from Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, “In the Dream World, power and adventure belong to the Lucid Dreamers, while Night Terrors haunt the troubled and the helpless.”

Learn the basics. Pay attention to roads and directions whenever you go outside. Reference that map initially but learn your way around without it as soon as you can. Getting familiar with your surroundings can be empowering. Learn about roads that should be avoided especially when you are by yourself. Find out alternate routes to your house. If you need to use public transport, get the general routes, fare and timings written down.

Even if you have a butler and cook, knowing which store your groceries come from is an important step to feeling settled. You will not have to depend on restaurant food everyday and snacks don’t always grow on trees. Apart from doing touristy activities during those first two weeks, find out close-by restaurants, gas stations, salons, laundry, library, malls, bakery – whatever you need to make life more convenient for you. Some things will go wrong and frustration will not be uncommon as you settle in. Nailing down these important details can save you a lot of time and energy in the days that follow those first two weeks,

Your neighbors might be skeptical about you or be indifferent about your presence. Both of which can cost you dearly if you ever need their help. One way to get friendly could be to knock on their doors and disturb them as they watch Netflix. Or use your first many weeks to smile at them when you meet them in the parking lot and other commons places and keep the introduction warm, short and friendly. Here’s a fact though – in some cultures, it is considered normal (polite even) if a new neighbor stops by (unannounced) at someone’s house with a box of quality sweets and stays to share a cup of tea with the hosts. But it’s better to be conservative in your approach at the beginning.

If you are renting a house, make sure your lease and other legal agreements are in order right from the start. As weeks turn to months, it will be harder to deal with them and undo damages. If you are in a new country, register with your consulate and get connected with the expat community. Stay connected socially and stay updated about current events impacting your new community.

Set up your house to be a comfortable home. If you don’t feel at home in your house, it might impact everything else. You might not be able to convince every loved one to move with you whenever you move but setting up little reminders about them can be special. Favorite books, musical instruments, workout equipment, photographs, food and spices – whatever is affordable and defines your comfort zones can make a big difference. Having a cozy refuge to return to at the end of the day is important wherever you live and more so when it’s a new place.

Click a lot of photos. There are some things that will seem more unique during those first two weeks and will be great conversation topics with friends and family.

Make new friends and learn to enjoy your own company.

Enjoy the change. Don’t draw comparisons between different places. They are meant to be different. Not everyone gets a chance to travel and live overseas. Be thankful for your experiences. They make you wiser.

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