Expat Life Survival Guide 1: Doing research

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I recalled the ‘euphoria’ of landing the job – as an expat librarian in the Middle -East. I remembered sharing this with my wife, and she reminded me that it was kind of long overdue – apparently, she had wanted us to move abroad after getting married. Well, better late than never.

Back to the topic. Before making the BIG move, do your research, extensively. My wife even got on board to find more information about the place, the people, the climate, etc. Know what are the dos and don’ts of the area, the cultural aspect of the region – this includes social and work culture. Take note of the climate as well. (Get ready those skin cream if needed). It would also be worthwhile to know specific administrative rules, policies, and procedures: such as applying for the driving license, buying a car, registering kids to local/international schools, making that doctor’s appointment for health check-ups, etc. The information obtained will help you and your family prepare your mindset so that you and your family won’t come in ‘blindly’ and get a ‘rude shock.’

Don’t forget to reach out and network to those who had been there and done that. For me, I was fortunate to re-connect with a friend who was working in the region at that time. I conducted an informal ‘reference interview’ with the person. It was a fruitful session. There were surprising answers to questions which I thought are quite straightforward. One of the most important lessons that I learned was to ensure that before you sign on that dotted line, make sure that these 3 things (among others) are covered for you and your family: medical coverage, housing or housing allowance, and your children’s education.

Here’s a quick list of information sources that I’ve used:

  • Human expertise
  • Books esp “How to” guides
  • Magazines / Journals
  • Travel Guides
  • Social Media such as Blogs, Twitters, Facebook
  • Websites – Governmental websites
  • Newspapers

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