The Ultimate Resource List to Help You Move Abroad
Living abroad is very exciting but it is not all rainbows. There will be hard times and a lot of adaptation and transition. You might face culture shock, language barrier, and forms of isolation. I know because I have been there. I’ve moved by myself not once, but three times.
I want to show you how you can make this transition smoother. Let these resources to be your guide!
When you first move to a new city/ country, you need a place to live to get your feet grounded. Accommodation should not be expensive, so these are budget-friendly ways to live for (almost) free.
Staying with Locals:
Couchsurfing: This site promotes culture and language sharing in exchange for a free stay with a local. It is the ultimate tool for backpackers when they are on the road, but it can also be used to get a sense of the city for a few days. (Updated: As of June 2020, there is an annual membership fee to access all hosts).
AirB&B: If you are willing to pay money there are many locals who want to share their space. You can get a good sense of different neighborhoods while you hunt for a permanent place to stay. First-time user? Get USD $35 off on your first trip here!
Volunteer and Work Exchange:
Trusted Housesitters: Do you love pets and need a place to stay? What about hitting two birds with one stone? Trusted Housesitters allows you to stay in someone’s house for free in exchange for helping them take care of their pets while they are on vacation.
Workaway: Free accommodation in exchange for service. Some of the placements include renovating a house, teaching English at a school or helping around a hostel.
HelpX: This site is a popular choice for those who love the outdoors and using their hands. Their online listings feature several organic and non-organic farms, ranches, and lodges from people who want additional help over the year or for seasonal work.
HelpStay: Another great option for exchanging service for accommodation and food. There are many interesting projects to get involved with as they are growing fast and already in over 60 countries, with over 160 projects available.
Language learning is not an easy task and it definitely can be daunting. However, having the basics covered and having the vocabulary for day-to-day life is essential. In addition, locals really appreciate it when expats are trying to learn their language and would accept you more for trying.
Mobile Learning Apps
Language learning has become more accessible and you can now learn with a smartphone device. Some of these apps also available on desktop, so it can sync whereever you are.
Babbel: If you are looking for an interactive app or website to learn a language, I definitely would recommend Babbel. I like how that it teaches you vocabulary and then quizzes you in a mix-and-match format. There are many European languages you can choose from such as French, Spanish, and Italian. I personally tried using this software for myself when learning French and really enjoyed it.
Lingoda: When you are ready to step into mastering your speaking fluency, I recommend Lingoda. The site is offered 24/7 with native teachers all around the world. Once you have set your language level, there is a number of lessons that focus on speaking, reading, writing and listening, and you can choose which one you wish to take. All the lessons are on PowerPoint and you can download them for future reference. It also has homework for you to practice further.
Looking for a challenge? Try their Language Marathon. I took 15 lessons per month for 3 months and I developed a strong habit for learning French. I also improved really quickly and became confident in my speaking and worked with over 20 different teachers. You are also eligible for a partial refund if you complete the marathon and followed all the rules. It is my favourite learning tool by far!
Duolingo: If there is a language that Babbel does not have, I reckon you give Duolingo a try. On the app/ website, they have over 30 European and Asian languages to choose from and it’s all free. Some of the uncommon languages you can learn to include Norwegian, Hungarian, Turkish and Welsh.
Hello Chinese: This is a mobile app that is specific to learning Mandarin for beginners. After trying out many apps, I have found Hello Chinese was the one that helped me the most to learn Chinese. It covers all four aspects of learning a language – reading, writing, speaking and listening. It will teach you vocabulary, quiz you on it, asks you to repeat the sentence via a microphone and show you the strokes to writing the characters. I highly recommend it!
Language learning should not be lonesome activity. You can reach out to the community to make it more collaborative and to learn together!
Conversation Exchange: This website can help you find a partner who wants to practice language with you as a partnership. You can choose which language you are fluent in, what language you want to learn, and in which region. Then you can contact that person directly and help one another to improve! In the past, I have always used this website to make new friends in a new city and at the same time, have an accountable partner.
Olly Richards’ Fluency Mastermind: Olly is a polyglot genius and this is his Facebook group to reunite language learners around the world together. It is a great community to ask questions and get advice about language learning or to find a language partner.
When you move abroad, you lose your personal network in the process. You suddenly don’t know anyone and have to start from scratch. Making friends as an adult is much more difficult than as a student so definitely try tapping into these social networks.
Meetup: This website is perfect for meeting people who have similar interests as you. You can search your city and your interest (i.e. photography, language learning, arts) and then you can find social groups that already exist. All you have to do is join in and meet some new friends. Sometimes these people may be expats like yourself, but there can also be locals who are open to meeting people from other cultures. It is definitely a good platform for finding new friends.
Eventbrite: Eventbrite is a website that most organizations use to manage their ticket sales. So for most people, they think of it as a purchasing platform but Eventbrite is also a great place to find local events in your city! It is really a search engine for finding events in your area. I like to type in my location, press enter, and then filter the price ‘free’ to see what I can find. This is a great method for finding budget-friendly events!
Expat Facebook groups: There are always expats in every region so the trick is trying to find the online community! What I suggest is typing your city in the search engine bar, and then press ‘groups’ to see what type of groups have been created. If you wanted to be more specific to what you need, you can put that in also. For example, if I live in Toyko and I want to find apartments, I will put ‘Toyko apartments.’ If I’m looking for the expat community I can try ‘Toyko expats.’ Try searching different keywords and see what you find.
Is there anything you would like to add? What are some of the resources you used when you moved abroad? I’d love to know if you have any other suggestions to share!