Feb 10th, 2016, 06:50 PM

Dépaysement: How to Cope with Moving Abroad

By Stuart Edwards
Image Source: Hans Braxmeier/Pixabay
Experienced expats share what they wish they'd known beforehand to have made their moves easier.

The most interesting thing about living in Paris is the sheer amount of diversity you'll see. Just walking the streets affords the opportunity to view a venerable human tapestry. You can encounter anyone from the jet setter, who possesses numerous resident visas in their passports, to that strange niche of American Midwesterners who have never previously ventured beyond their county lines.

For first timers living outside their native country, there are a few essentials that they need to know to survive the difficult changes. A few seasoned expats have wise words to share. 

When asked what they wish they’d known upon their first move, the international students quickly considered the cultural aspect. “I think it's important to research cultural differences beforehand and keep a very open mind,” said Henrika Malmros, a British-Swedish national studying abroad in Paris. Malmros lived in Dubai and went to boarding school in Sweden before coming to France. With this range of experience under her belt, she notes that “it’s important to have a mesh of your own culture and then incorporate the new.” 

Open-mindedness is also an attribute that a young individual on the move needs to have. Camilla Villegas, who is from Colombia, moved to Singapore and then the U.S despite the societal differences. “Even if you feel like an outsider at first,” Camilla Villegas says, “it will let you learn so many things about yourself that you never would have otherwise.”

Feeling like an outsider is a side effect that comes from the drastic change of moving. These negative motions should be pushed aside according to Gabriela Wilson, a Cape Verdean student adopted by Americans who’s lived in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Italy, and now Paris. “Don’t be afraid: every move is an opportunity to make an entirely new life for yourself,” she says, “take it as a chance to do things you wish you would have done in your previous city.”