How to Prepare to Live and Work Abroad

Living abroad provides some unique experiences that you simply can’t get back home. Immersion in new cultures, languages, and attitudes can open the mind to new vistas, and provides a fantastic mirror for continued self-improvement. But moving away from home for work or school requires some preparation. Joining the estimated nearly nine million Americans living abroad provides a rewarding and challenging experience once you have these simple tasks squared away and are ready to depart.

Store your belongings.


When you leave home you will have to find a place to store your belongings for the duration of your absence. Some people are only going away for a semester or year and may be able to leave some things in their parents’ attic or basement. But many of those moving away from home are doing so permanently. For those on a long term contract or looking for a permanent adventure away, self storage facilities near Chicago should be on your radar. You won’t be able to bring everything you own with you, nor should you, so the remaining possessions you have in the States need a home for the time being. You may decide to sell most of your belongings or bring them over piecemeal to join you in your new home. Either way, a storage unit is a perfect solution in the short term. Lots of storage facilities have a variety of unit sizes and climate control so that your valuable or sensitive belongings will be well cared for in your absence.

Clean up your digital storage, too.

When you’re traveling you probably take tons of photos of new and exciting locations and events. Cleaning up your desktop and creating dedicated folders to help organize your albums by date or location will help you manage what can easily become an unruly mess. An easy addition to organizational bliss is online video storage. Cloud storage solutions are making digital recordkeeping far easier, you simply upload your videos and pictures to your Google Drive account, or other cloud services, as an alternative storage option or backup to a hard drive file location on your computer. Keeping pictures in multiple digital files is a great way to ensure their protection in the event of a hard drive crash or other data failure that could otherwise destroy years of memories.

Use social media and messaging apps.

WhatsApp is a massively popular texting application all around the world that relies on data connectivity rather than traditional cell service. Because of this, you can easily stay in touch with your loved ones without the addition of costly international plans to your phone bills. It was bought a few years back by the social media giant Facebook and has added video calling, group messaging, and can even support group videos. Americans haven’t totally broken away from traditional text messaging, but abroad most people rely on WhatsApp for everything from group texting to business conversations. Download this or other messaging tools and prompt your friends and family to do the same so you won’t lose touch once you depart.

Don’t forget to have fun.

Once you land in your new city, don’t forget to have fun. Life abroad is about more than simply the job you have signed on for. Go out for a night on the town with your friends or take a weekend trip away to the Czech Republic to drink in all that Czech beer has to offer. European living, in particular, offers incredible travel freedom as nearly the entire continent participates in the free movement of people just as our individual states are organized. Travel throughout Europe can be done with a rail pass or on budget airline flights that hop from one city to the next in rapid time. Taking a brewery tour in Germany, making reservations for a ski day in Switzerland, and rounding out a long weekend in Prague with the velvet flavor of bottomless glasses of Pilsner Urquell — a Czech Republic staple and one of the oldest lagers in the world — is all within reach. Prepare for the journey and live a little in order to make the most of your time away.