Six things that happen your first week as an expat

It is extremely rare to start a new life abroad without encountering a few bumps along the way. Luckily most of them will probably occur within your first week, when you’re acclimating yourself to your surroundings and getting used to how everything works in the strange land you now call home. Whether you’re starting a new life in Spain or Singapore, here are a few things you’ll probably do in the first seven days that pretty much can’t be avoided.


1. Get lost

Let’s face it, unless you already knew your new location quite well before moving, you will probably spend about 30% of your first week not having a clue where you are. Don’t stress, it can be frustrating but what with the new public transport and street names to get used to, and how every building looks exactly the same for the first few days, it’s no surprise this is something all expats experience when they move to a new place. The best thing I can advise you to do is embrace it. After all, you discover the best things when lost – look at Colombus.

2. Eat strange food… because you didn’t know what it was

Unless you’re moving to somewhere that shares your mother tongue, or you fully brushed up on your language skills before you moved, it’s likely that you’ll (unwittingly) transform from someone who squirms at the idea of anything with blood in it to the person who wolfs down cuy al palo without blinking twice, (that’s roast guinea pig by the way). Nevertheless, one of the great things about travelling is getting to experience the local cuisine and whether you do it intentionally or just because you didn’t know what anything was on the menu, either way, you’ll have some great stories to impress your friends with back home.

3. Have a ‘lost in translation’ moment

Even the most evolved linguists have experienced this at some point in their lives. I mean there’s just so many words to learn, it’s understandable that you get them mixed up from time to time. Unfortunately, this moment always seems to come at the worst possible time, such as when you forget a new acquaintance’s name in Spain and say that you’re so embarazada (pregnant) or you thank a friend in Germany for the ‘gift’ (where it actually means poison). Don’t worry though, hopefully these incidents will just turn into amusing anecdotes and strengthen the bond between you and your new compadres.

4. Get homesick

After all those hours spent lost, embarrassing yourself and eating strange food, don’t be surprised if you start to feel a bit homesick a lot sooner than you expected. Not to worry though, after all home is just a Skype call away and I’m pretty sure they sell fries everywhere now.

5. Get actually sick (because of strange food mentioned in 2)

Prepare for the inevitable that all those adventurous meals you’ve been eating will probably take their toll on your digestive system sooner or later – but most likely sooner. So don’t let it catch you completely by surprise and stock up on plenty of crackers and rehydration salts. And make sure you check out what the status quo is on the tap water, you can never be too sure…

And finally…

6. Blow your first month’s budget

Never underestimate how much money you should set aside for your first month. Always double your first guestimation just to be on the safe side; otherwise don’t say you weren’t warned when all your savings disappear by the end of the first week. Even the most meticulous planner can’t avoid those momentary first week splurges on taxis (when you just can’t bear getting lost on the bus again), socialising (you have to make the effort to meet people after all) and those random purchases from your first trip to the local market that make so much sense at the time but you’ll probably never use again. Trust me, you’re never going to play those pan pipes. Ever.

Source: kris krüg


Kat Ashton

Kat Ashton currently resides in Madrid. She is a harsh critic of anything that contains fennel and spends her time reading, writing and dreaming about the intangible world of ideas.

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