For me, living abroad has been the right choice. I’ve seen other people come and go from both Italy and here in Morocco. Living somewhere is not like being on vacation. While it has been the right choice for me, it hasn’t always been easy. Here are the things that I have struggled with most.

1. Missing family and friends-This one is obvious. With modern technology, the world is much smaller and it is easier to stay in touch with people. Still, there are times when you want to be with a loved one and it just isn’t feasible. Making adjustments around holidays birthdays, and times, when those you hold dear are ill or in need, is difficult from afar.

2. Language-Learning the language is a necessity if you are going to live in a place. You might be able to get by in the market or around town, but when it comes to reading contracts, opening bank accounts, filing taxes, going to the doctor, you are going to need to speak the language. In addition, it makes acclimating into your new home more pleasant in that you can speak with neighbors and locals that you meet. It isn’t easy though!

3. Finding social outlets-usually you will start with the other immigrants from your home country. That is fine, but in order to enter the society in which you chose to live, you have to learn the language and get involved. That might mean volunteer work, taking classes, or finding a job. You will be happier and feel less isolated if you integrate yourself into your local community. You can usually start with a social network online that might have regular meetups. Again this might only integrate you will other immigrants, but that network will start to grow and expand into the local community.

4. Culture Shock-You likely chose your new home because of some of the cultural differences. You will not like all of the cultural differences that you find. Adapting to the culture is difficult, but you can choose which things you take to heart and which ones you do not. Things such as opening and closing times of businesses, bureaucracy, food rules and customs, religious activities, tipping practices, social interactions, and how you dress are all things to be considered. It is best to be observant and learn what the locals do so as not to stand out like a sore thumb.

5. Food-This might not be something that you think of when you think of living in another country. My primary advice is to plan to eat like a local. In countries outside of the United States, it is common to shop daily for fresh food. Refrigerators may be smaller and freezers non- existent. Produce is available in season and not all year round, but the outstanding flavor when it arrives makes it worth it. Fast food and ethnic food might not exist and may be expensive when you find it. Learning about the recipes and foods of the country where you live can be very rewarding.

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2 Comments

  1. Should you encounter any cultural steps that needs explaining here in Morocco, please do don’t hesitate to call on me

    • Karen Mills Reply

      Thanks Naima! You’re my number one go to person. (After my Moroccan husband that is). There are enough questions to go around.

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