Moving to a new country can be quite exciting!
However, do you remember how it felt when your parents taught you how to speak and walk?
Do you also remember going through various stages of school before being able to function as an adult?
Yup, that’s pretty much how it is when you move to a new country (especially one that speaks a different language). However, starting anew isn’t as bad as it may sometimes seem. There are many benefits of migrating to a new country (as I’m sure you might be aware of). There are many ways to turn your daunting move into a completely positive experience.
I’ve learned quite a few valuable lessons since I’ve migrated (spontaneously) to Switzerland. Here are a few that will hopefully encourage you too
1.) DO NOT Look Before You Leap
Yes unconventional I know! The saying “Look before you leap” applies to many situations. However, in this case NOT looking before I leaped turned out in my favor. We all as humans feel a sense of comfort in planning and organizing what we want for the future, so much so that we become extremely uncomfortable even thinking about doing things that are uncertain or unplanned. For me, making the spontaneous unplanned move to Switzerland spared me so many woes.
Yes, certainly planning would have helped, but it would not eliminate the fear of change and the deep sense of uncertainty that comes with such a big move. I didn’t get cold feet because in all honesty I never knew where my next step would land me. I spared myself the overwhelming sadness of leaving friends and family behind because in my mind it was always “I’ll be back soon”.
I doubt I would ever be able to tell a more interesting story in my life prior to my move and I know for sure it will be a memory I will never forget.
In truth and in fact, though migrating IS you leaving persons you love, it IS NOT a permanent thing. Your friends and family will still be there so you can visit (I choose not to dwell on that fact). I also did not allow myself to build up the move into a momentous happening that marked the largest change in life ever! Spontaneity allowed me to swallow this pill far easier than if I had planned it months or years ahead of time. It also gave me a rush of adrenaline to do something so spontaneous in my own seemingly mundane life. I doubt I would ever be able to tell a more interesting story in my life prior to my move and I know for sure it will be a memory I will never forget.
So many of us get caught up in a life that society deems normal and safe that sometimes we lose track of what can be enjoyable in life. Doing something spontaneous adds a kick to the otherwise mundane lives we are made to live.
2.) It Takes Time
One of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve received (from my dad) is “Rome was not built in a day”. Things simply will take time. As much as you would love to hit the ground running it simply does not work that way. Give yourself time to adjust to a new culture and a new language. It isn’t by any means an easy feat, which is where PATIENCE comes in to play. There will be numerous hurdles to overcome and many experiences to attain before you are on your feet again in the same capacity as you were in your home country.
Taking the time to learn a new language and build a new foundation is not an easy feat and certainly takes time.
For me, learning to interact with people speaking a different language only became manageable after my 7th month of living in Switzerland (after quite a few lessons in German).Without knowing the language all other aspects of integration are mostly impossible. Taking the time to learn a new language and build a new foundation is not an easy feat and certainly takes time. Being able to speak the language expanded my ability to function independently and confidently.
3.) Adjust Your Goals & Roll with the Punches
As much as we try to plan our lives, many times we learn the hard or disappointing lesson that life is organic and not all aspects can be planned down to a T. For me I had always seen a future with me attaining my masters before I hit the age of 30. Although I am still a few years away, I can see that I will have to adjust some of my expectations as my life changes and I have to readjust. It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you aren’t doing enough for your own life in the moment (which clearly IS NOT the case) or that your life is going terribly slow since you’re building from the very base.
It’s OKAY to let go of some of the expectations and goals you had set before to allow new way for equally fulfilling experiences to happen.
You need to remember that you’re accomplishing A WHOLE LOT! It takes a lot of guts to restart your life in a new country but the benefits you reap from such a feat will be bountiful. So it’s OKAY to let go of some of the expectations and goals you had set before to allow new way for equally fulfilling experiences to happen. It only adds to an improved version of yourself. Besides, you can still strive to achieve the goals you originally set for yourself; it’s just on a different timeline and with additional qualifications to your resume of life.
4.) Don’t Focus on the Current Struggle, See the Future Goal
It’s easy to feel like you’re running on a treadmill, not reaching anywhere. It may also feel overwhelming with all the things in life that come to pressure you into doing things. But remember there’s an end goal.
You won’t be stagnant forever.
Not because you are where you are now means you’ll never be the person you envisioned yourself to be before. You won’t be stagnant forever. Your once hesitance and fright to be in a new world will fade and you’ll eventually recognize your feelings and desires changing. Even though you may think at first ” I’ll always be afraid of being in this new place and I’ll never be ready to step out!”, you WILL eventually feel more confident in yourself.
5.) Never Lose Yourself:
Being in a new surrounding among new people and new situations can be quite intimidating. After the fun of the newness wears off it’s easy to focus on the difficult aspects of your new life. Not having friends and not being able to communicate (in the same capacity as you’re used to) can lead to a type of self-seclusion. You’re outside of your usual settings and it can be quite daunting. It takes a strong will not to lose aspects of your character and personality. It makes a world of difference if you keep reminding yourself of your own capabilities and your own successes so that you aren’t lost in the perception people may have of you in your new surroundings.
Motivate yourself; keep your mind occupied so that you can remember your own intellect and self worth.
Personally I have battled with remembering which hobbies at home made me happy (sewing and photography). I urged myself to remember my own determination to make a living from a self created brand which emerged from intrinsic motivation. Many of these moments were for me a bit faded because of how small I felt in a new world. Find activities that allow you to continue to express yourself. Motivate yourself; keep your mind occupied so that you can remember your own intellect and self worth. Stimulate your mind!
6.) Have an Open Mind: Never Judge a Book by It’s Cover
It’s easy to see someone and draw your own conclusions about them, especially if they appear different from us. Since being here I’ve met a few persons from extremely different cultures than my own. Many are non-English speaking and have different religious backgrounds. At first I found myself unable to relate to them. I realized I had only been able to draw on false and insensitive stereotypes of these cultures. However, rather than distancing myself, I opened my mind to befriended them.
It’s harder to judge people and view them negatively when you get to know their own struggles in life.
The knowledge we gain from speaking to people opens the heart and mind to the one thing we all share on this planet, humanity. It’s harder to judge people and view them negatively when you get to know their own struggles in life. Most likely you both share similar experiences from being a foreigner in a new country. Learning this lesson surely made me realize, despite our cultural differences, we shared the same struggle to integrate.
Toni-Ann | The Swiss Freis
Have you ever migrated to a new country? What’s one of the pieces of advice you would give to someone who is about to migrate? Share it with us in the comments ?