The day we booked our tickets to Canada, the only thing I could think about was the new home. Everything would be brand new – furniture, curtains, appliances and even our toiletries. It was my husband who gave me a much-needed wake-up call that forced me to come out of my fantastic daydream. Before we would begin to furnish the empty house, we will have to do much important things like applying for a driving license and looking for proper thermals.
There is an air of excitement and anticipation when you are moving to another country, and yes, it can be hard to contain. Before you land in your new homeland, you must consider the following factors:
1. Visas and Work Permits
You can dream about exploring the dense African jungles, but nobody’s letting you in without a valid visa, my friend. To be granted access to a foreign country, you are required to have a travel visa or a work permit. For immigrants, immigrant visas are issued along with landing documents. Once you reach your destination, the documents allow you to acquire residence and work. Immigrants can also apply for healthcare and driver’s license on the basis of these document until their PR card arrives. On the other hand, work permit is an employment letter issued by the employer to allow the employee to enter the country. Visas come with an expiry date and you must land before it. In case you miss it, you will have to re-apply for your immigration.
2. Culture Shock
Anyone who has traveled abroad knows how unsettling a new environment can be. From cultural differences to unfamiliar surroundings, it can take a while to settle in. Cultural shock may not hit you immediately. The initial period is no less than a honeymoon phase. Life seems more adventurous and exciting. You set up your house, meet new people and accustom yourself to the foreign world. You tell yourself that moving abroad was the best decision you ever made. Then comes the frustration. You are homesick, work isn’t satisfactory and communication gaps begin to get you. After a few months, you adjust to your new life and you begin to feel comfortable with the new surroundings. Later, as a year or two passes by, you accept your new life after wrestling with bouts of depression and overwhelming emotions. When you are immigrating to a new country, mentally prepare yourself for cultural differences and struggles.
3. Financial Restraints
When people decide to emigrate, they mostly leave their well-settled lives. An acquaintance moved to USA for the sake of his child’s education. Back home, he was working in a top-notch company at a high-level position. The family was pretty well-off. After emigrating, they had to go through extreme financial struggle. They drove Uber, worked overtime, and did odd jobs to make both ends meet. It took them more than a couple of years to settle. Life most definitely won’t be a bed of roses when you move to a new country. Money will be tight, and you will have to struggle a lot.
4. Finding Residence
Every country has its own set of rules and regulations and you must do your homework before you head out. Find out about rent prices, tenants’ rights, housing policies and whether or not you are eligible for loan and mortgage. Depending upon the size of your family and budget, you can opt for a small studio apartment or a fully furnished house. Paying rent will make quite a big hole in your wallet so choose your residence wisely. Rent turns out to be the biggest expense for immigrants. Moreover, some property owners may discriminate against immigrants and may even threaten them. To protect them from harassment, every country has immigrant tenant protection laws that you must be aware of to prevent and combat discrimination.
One of the biggest challenges immigrants have to face is to secure a proper job. You may find odd jobs easily, but they don’t pay much, there’s no certainty and they don’t help you progress in your career. Once your immigration has been confirmed, start looking for jobs online. You can email your resume in different firms and companies, give interviews through video sessions, and keep a lookout for job openings. Even if you don’t land a job, you will be familiar with the job market that will help you in future.
6. Driving License
Figure out the best way to commute in your new homeland. Do you plan to take public transport or drive your own car? Find out about the fuel rates, the procedure to obtain driver’s license and how much do public buses and taxis cost. If you already know how to drive, you can file for international driver’s license/permit (IDP) in your own country before you fly. It will allow you to drive a private vehicle in a country that recognizes IDPs.
7. Climatic Change
I was pretty excited about going to Calgary until I got to know how harsh winters are there. It dampened my spirits slightly. As I am used to a tropical climate encompassing cozy winters and sultry summers, it will take some time to get myself accustomed to bitterly cold winds and massive snowfall. Moreover, it will be quite a challenge to shovel the snow off my porch and drive through the snow! Immigrants must consider the country’s weather before making a decision. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but if you are not used to a certain climate, it can cause issues.
8. Learn Etiquette
Every country has a certain set of customs and etiquette expectations that you must follow. For instance, if you are moving to Middle East, shaking hands with females is a big no-no while in western countries, it is considered a sign of respect. Similarly, in some countries, smiling unnecessarily is frowned upon while in others, if you don’t smile, you are labelled as an obnoxious snob. Learn the basic etiquette of the country you are moving to as it will help you fit in.
9. Dress Codes
Dress codes can be tough to handle especially if you are not used to a certain attire. In Muslim countries, you are required to be fully covered up. Some Arab countries have strict laws regarding immodest clothing such as bikinis and short skirts. Thailand is pretty straight forward but you simply can’t wear shorts and sleeveless clothing when you visit the temples. In South Asian countries, there are no laws, but you will gain unwanted attention and stares if you venture out in a knee-length dress.
10. Religious and Cultural Values
Many people who move from their religious and cultural hub often face problems raising their children. They have trouble inspiring same values in their kids with whom they had been brought up. For instance, it is prohibited for Muslims to consume alcohol and pork. If the third culture kids aren’t used to the same values, it may become hard for parents to justify and instill those prohibitions. Many families even move back to their native country for the very same reason.
Life is full of risks and it is worth taking a few! Immigration is a huge step and it opens doors to numerous opportunities. A well-thought plan for emigrating will most definitely turn out to be good for your future.