What it’s Like to Live and Work Abroad

When preparing to live, study, or work abroad, you probably looked into all the technicalities of a move of this magnitude: housing, transportation, schooling, new employment, etc. While those aspects are certainly all important, there’s another side to preparing for life abroad. What if you miss all the diverse food options that you used to have in your home country? What if the local grocery store isn’t so local and you have to travel far to stock up? Perhaps you’re running into different work ethics among co-workers?

A new country can be a culture shock, that’s for sure. But all those little things you used to take for granted can seem huge when in a new place. Here are some considerations that can help you understand what it’s like to actually live and work abroad.

Friends – or Lack Thereof

One of the biggest challenges to living abroad is the lack of contacts. Many people who move to a new country don’t know a soul, aside from perhaps a new boss. This can be terrifying and isolating, especially coming from your home country where you had a wide circle of friends, family, colleagues and more. That lack of a support system is a huge shock that no book really tells you about. But rest assured, you will make friends. The key is to constantly work at it – put yourself out there, be willing to go to that party, that club, that after-work dinner. It’s a constant hustle, but it will pay off.

Lack of Understanding

Even if you took language classes before leaving home, the language barrier and change in culture will be a big roadblock at first. You’ll exhaust yourself by mid-day just trying to keep up with basic local phrases, niceties and even the currency system. But day by day, you’ll pick up new phrases, get the exchange rate down pat and navigate the streets with ease.


Ah, the worst part of moving abroad: missing home. It will happen. You’re no longer surrounded by friends and family whom you can call, invite to dinner or just hang out with. You no longer know what the office politics are or how you are supposed to greet your superiors. You’re alone trying out new foods for the first time, often times hating the new food at first and wishing for some home-cooked meals. You’ll miss the stores you always shopped at, your favorite local coffee shop with the glazed cinnamon buns you used to love, and even the speed of the Internet back home. But again, you will overcome these obstacles and create new habits, new loves, new passions.

Being prepared for all of the above is key. Learning the language is the first piece of the puzzle. For that, rely on BRIC Language Systems for an innovative way to learn that will help immerse you in the local culture. Sign up for a free trial now.