Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Tips for moving internationally

You have decided to become an expat, congratulations. Welcome to a world of not understanding other people, haggling for basic items, and treating life like an adventure.
It is fun, anxiety inducing, and really forces you to stay on your toes. A week after I moved to Thailand, I was thrilled to death because I had figured out how to ask for ten baht coins and do laundry all on my own - something I had been doing for 15 years at that point. 
You really do learn to celebrate the little things. 
Here is a list of things I wish I had known before I moved to a new country. Some of these might be more "Asia Specific" but I am sure you can take it as a jumping off point...
1. Bring an original and photo-copy of literally every single document you have. Bank statements, doctors notes, everything. 
I have been asked for the following over the course of the year.
A. Diploma
B. Marriage certificate
C. Bank statement
D. Health check (each country has things they want to know)
E. Passport copies
F. Criminal background check
G. Resume
H. Transcript
Etc. literally everything you have that proves you are... you... should be brought. You think it is hard to get a copy of your diploma a few cities away? Try 10 time zones. 
2. Get every single item notarized, preferably at the consulate or location of origin. Just do it. Don't ask why. 
3. Buy area specific products. Some things like deodorant are very area specific. I sweat, especially in the tropics. The bullshit spray on deodorant does next to nothing. My armpits and the noses of others survive on people taking pity on me and mailing me deodorant. Bring a damn Costco case with you. The same goes with underwear. Just trust me, bring underwear. Lots of it. 
3a. Tampons - my wife said tampons. Adding that. Just trust her on it.
4. Medicine. Certain meds can be quite difficult to get your hands on, while others are cheap. Get on an expat forum and find out which category yours falls into. 
5. Pack very light. You can buy all that bullshit when you get to your new location. 
6. Depending on your location, consider a suitcase with wheels. Not all infrastructure is created equally. Honestly for travel I like a frame pack because the sidewalks can be quite shitty but that does cause you to appear to be in the 20-something age category.
7. Cosmetics - Asia is obsessed with skin whiteners. Literally everything will whiten your skin. Bring your own sunscreen as well unless you want to whiten your skin with local brands.
8. Asia has Asian sized clothes. If you are bigger or taller, bring your own stuff. You won't find your size here.
9. Leave your ideas of women's liberation, child labor, PETA  etc at home. It is different here and you will only insult the people you are "trying to save." 
10. Do not ever get involved or say anything political. You do not have freedom of speech. You opinion does not
matter and is not needed. No one cares how you do it at home. Leave it there. Don't say stupid political things when you are drunk - learn to take your opinions on matters and bury them down in a place you do tell anyone about. 
Number 10 is a big issues. I have so many people who say that they "get it" when I tell them about how they need to respect certain political and social structures in their speech and writing and them break it five minutes later. It just comes down to not being an idiot and thinking before you speak. If you cannot do either, you really don't belong abroad. Stay home, please. 
These are just a few, but they should make the move easier. Good luck and have fun exploring!