Moving to another country: get ready to be surprised – Part 1

by Nataliya Semenova

I never had a plan to change my country of living. But when an interesting job opportunity came up, I felt that I would certainly regret it if I didn’t give it a try.

For now I am living and working in Amsterdam for a bit more than 2 years, and if you ask me “how is it?” I would answer: “absolutely different from what I ever imagined.”

No matter how well prepared you are, how many hours you spend surfing the internet: reading, researching and studying the peculiarities of the new country (of course the more – the better!) – still there will be moments you feel like a student who was asked an absolutely different question from all he has been boning up.

Moving to another country means you are facing both material (or more pragmatic/commercial) and psychological (emotional) challenges.

In today’s blog I will focus on the material part. In my next blog I will address a number of emotional challenges and share with you my findings

Let me start with stressing the importance of detailed preparations in advance: Know how to get visa, work permit and all other necessary documentations; understand the tax system; how your new job will look like (or how you are going to find it); where you will live and of course how much it will all cost  – having this knowledge initially will save you a lot of nerves and time while building your new life in the new place.

Let’s look at some of the most essential elements in more detail:

  1. Job: In my case I was moving to another country because of an appealing job opportunity so I didn’t need to start looking for the new job from scratch. Still (and it was quite fair in my case as well) be ready that you would need to prove your expertise and professionalism in an absolutely different environment. And yes, it is quite a big stress especially if you have already built a good career before.

You may also find out that your business communication style – which was absolutely efficient and brought you success in one country – may not work in another country. Of course this might depend on all kind of factors, like i.e. whether you are working in a big international company or small local company, yet it is important to remember that work- and communication culture will be new and different.

You will need time to adjust to a different way of working and understanding your new boss and peers. Of course your boss and peers will need time as well to start understanding you better.

My advice to you is – don’t be too shy to ask and to talk. It is far better if in some confusing situation you say: “Sorry, there might have been some misunderstanding, this is what I meant..” rather than people think that you are rude and you think they are stubborn.

Sense of humor can also help a lot, as well as the ability not to take your self too serious.

  1. Language: In order not to become Captain Obvious I will only mention that of course strong knowledge of the foreign language is a must. It depends very much on the country – whether English as an international language (in business as well) is enough or not. But the reality is of course that if you also possess a good knowledge of the native language of your new country of living it will help you very much in many areas of life.
  1. New house: One of the most important questions in this respect is the price. Try to research the market in advance, in order not to get unexpected surprises, and then try to visit quite some places to get the flavor of the new town, it’s different areas and districts, and make your choice. It would be ideal if you could spend few weeks in the temporary house or hotel, then you have more chances to make the choice which will not disappoint you later. And of course explore the legal part of the question carefully.
  1. Medicine: It is worth mentioning that different countries have their own approach with regards to different medications and treatment. Some medicaments which you normally buy in your country without even a need for an order from your doctor, may be unauthorized or not in use in another country. Study this question accurately and try to bring the most necessary medications with you. Also take into account that the price for the health care may differ a lot and health insurance may become rather a big part of your budget.

Of course these are not all material questions you would need to take care about when moving to the new country but a few of the most important ones.

In my blog next week I will address the second type of challenges – which I consider even more demanding – the psychological or emotional ones, so stay tuned!


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