Updated: Jan 10
HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO CONSIDER
Moving temporarily to a new country can be exciting and overwhelming, all at once. There are so many things to consider, such as: what to pack, what to expect, will you enjoy it there, will you like the food, how different is the culture, will you be able to move around freely, among other things.
I've put together a small guide based on my past experience when I was a language assistant moving to Lyon, France in 2015. I hope it helps !
1. WHAT TO PACK
When moving (only for a couple of months) to another country, you think you need the world in your luggage so you pack EVERYTHING ! That was the number one regret of a lot of Language Assistants I traveled with then. Everyone packed several outfits and shoes that were eventually useless in the European weather, some were useful but of course, we never considered how much we'd shop.
In the end when it was time to go back to Jamaica, we were all tossing items in the trash at Brussels International Airport to meet the required weight, hurrying to catch our flight. Please, don't let this happen to you (lol).
MY RECOMMENDATIONS BASED ON MY TEMPORARY MOVE TO FRANCE:
Don't say you won't shop; you will. Prepare to accommodate clothes you haven't bought as yet for your return to your home country. Even if you plan to pay for an extra suitcase. Sales are very common during the change of seasons.
Think of packing:
2 pairs of shoes (one brown and one black)
2 versatile scarves that go with any outfit
A versatile coat that goes with any outfit (you might be wearing it; yay more space !)
3 pairs of jeans for everyday wear.
A variety of T-Shirts (at least 5 or more)
2 chic outfits for fun nights
2 formal outfits
Food items that are personal favourites (at least they don't go back into the suitcase)
There might be things I am missing but, in my opinion, I believe these are some of the essentials and in the right quantity.
NOTE: Based on your country of assignment or where you're moving to temporarily, you might need more formal outfits because of the dress code for teachers. In this case, add more formal outfits to your suitcase from home in order to be prepared. In Europe and Latin America, it is generally a casual dress code.
See below my first day vs. the middle of the semester. For the readers heading to Europe, prime example😂
2. WHAT TO EXPECT
Every culture and country is different. I always say have no expectations and go with an open mind about what you might encounter. Culture shocks might occur but try not to make them a big deal, sometimes residents take that as an insult. Be polite even if it evokes the wrong reaction.
Based on your city or village of assignment, you can do some research and get an idea of what you might experience there. Of course, you won't get all the information you need but some background info is better than nothing.
3. TRYING A NEW CUISINE
A big mistake of mine was not trying a lot of new food while I was in France. I stuck to my comfort food that were mostly safe. So McDonald's, Kebab food (Middle Eastern Restaurants in France) and anything that were french fries and something recognizable.
Don't be like me ( 😂 ), explore and try new things. Check out local bakeries and restaurants, they line the streets in every city and town. But buy something fresh that has not been sitting on display for the entire day or more. 🤔
Not everything will be tasty but at least you tried, right? 😂
4. MAKE NEW FRIENDS !
If you are moving to a European country, the ERASMUS group is one to follow. They often host events that are fun-filled and a huge cultural mixer. I made quite a few friends while attending ERASMUS parties and events.
In general, wherever you travel to, try to make new friends; it's a part of the experience. This is especially important if you are trying to improve your language skills in a second/third language. Sometimes you might feel mildly depressed because you're homesick but capitalise on the opportunity while you have it. Go to events, meet new people. They say if you try new things alone, you meet people with similar interests, i.e. you make new friends.
Pub Quiz night with new friends | February 2016-Lyon,France
If you are anything like me, after some time you're going to miss home. We have to be realistic about this part. My recommendation: keep busy. On your weeks off, take quick and cheap trips to distract you. Also, some assistants initially booked return tickets so that they could go home for Christmas. I wish I had thought the same thing because Christmas was hard for me, being away from family.
In reality, not everyone can afford to do this, so once again take a trip and make the holidays memorable. My friends and I went to Geneva, Switzerland for dinner on December 26th and then we took a bus to Barcelona, Spain from Lyon, France - imagine the scenic drive ! We spent 3 days in Spain and of course we visited A LOT of famous sites. We rang in the new year with a fireworks show close by our hotel. From someone who was terribly homesick at that point, these little trips helped.
6. AFFORDABLE MEANS OF TRANSPORT
Unfortunately, I don't have a broad range of knowledge when it comes to affordable means of transport around the world. Nonetheless, I can share some of the affordable options in Europe.
2. Ouigo Bus & Train (Sometimes expensive, book in advance)
5. EasyJet Airlines
There might be new ones now that I haven't mentioned here but ask around, I'm sure they'll be happy to help.
Travel in Europe is flexible for the most part. Once you have the required visa ( the Schengen visa), that is if you do need it, you should be able to travel to most European countries. With Brexit underway, always check before you book your trip to England. Sometimes things change without us knowing. If you are from a country that is not visa exempt to the EU, check if there are any visa requirements before you book your travel outside of the EU.
These are only some of the things you need to consider when temporarily moving to a new country. If you are considering being a language assistant, there are normally groups on Facebook that help with this transition.
Until next time,