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Your new life overseas: what to do when you arrive

Getting ready to move abroad? Just arrived in your new location? You’ve probably been so busy preparing for departure that you might have forgotten about planning for the “other side” – what to do when you arrive!

Though the suggestions below aren’t complete by any means, keeping this list in mind will help you settle in faster and help you feel more comfortable in your new country. Have more suggestions? Add them in the comments below!

Basics and legalities

  • Register as a resident, if needed – Every country has different regulations and procedures, but your school should be able to help you with any necessary registration you’ll need to complete.
  • Make sure you have health insurance – Does your employer provide insurance? If so, check when your coverage begins, and purchase travel insurance to cover you if there’s a window between your arrival and the start of your health insurance.

Practical necessities

  • Buy and register a car – In many areas of the world, including the Middle East, you’ll need a car for transportation. Taxi rides add up quickly, so look into getting your own vehicle as soon as possible!
  • Look into transportation passes – In many other cities, a car will not be necessary. If you’re using public transportation often, look into  monthly passes for commuters.
  • Open a bank account – You’ll likely need this before you can start receiving your salary. This is something else your school will usually help with.
  • Get a phone – Ask your local co-workers for advice so that you’re familiar with phone providers and their standards plans and rates.

Your new home

  • Unpack – Sounds obvious, right? But it’s all too easy to let those boxes sit for weeks. The longer you let them sit, the longer you’ll feel like you’re still in a transitional phase, instead of being “at home.”
  • Locate the essentials – Within your first few days, locate a nearby grocery store and pharmacy.
  • Memorize your address – You’ll need to know it in case you have to ask for directions (or a taxi) home. Not only that, you will also have a lot of paperwork – for banks, phone companies, and even membership cards – most of which will require your address.

Settling in

  • Get involved in extracurriculars – Whether at your school or outside of work, find a club, sports team, or language learning group. It’s the best way to meet people, get involved, and hopefully learn a little about the culture.
  • Look for social groups for expats – This is another way to meet people who can help you adjust to life in your new country.
  • Find a local English-language news source – Many countries put out a national English-language newspaper. It’s a great resource for keeping up with major issues in your country, and as an added bonus, many articles and editorials are written with the expat community in mind.
  • Research upcoming events in the area – The sooner you can find out what’s going on near you, the sooner you’ll start falling in love with your new home!

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