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Taking a job abroad is an exciting experience, and one that will change the course of your life forever — whether you’re a college student taking a summer job, or setting out on a great expat experience.
Whatever your age and background, the country you’re going to or the country you’re leaving, you’re going to be feeling a lot of different emotions. Excited, nervous and apprehensive about moving to a completely new country, sad about leaving your friends and family, but ready for a new adventure.
One of the things that is also very common is people taking european language jobs feeling very stressed about their move, specifically around their new job. Of course you want to do your job to the best of your ability and make the most of your experience — and that means throwing yourself into work.
But this often means that people struggle to balance work and social life when living abroad. And while it’s great to make the most of your job, you moved for more reasons than just that — you wanted to immerse yourself in the culture of the country you now live in, and have the full experience.
If you’re struggling to balance your work and social life when living aboard, or you’re about to make that move, we’ve got you covered. Here are some tips and lessons we’ve learnt that can help you adapt and get that balance right.
One of the best ways to balance your work and social life when living abroad is to set yourself clear boundaries between the two — and these boundaries can be both physical and mental.
Of course, with some jobs, this is easier said than done. If you work in an office or somewhere you have to commute to, it’s relatively easy to switch off when you leave the building. This physical change helps your brain to mentally say goodbye to your working day.
However, if you’re working from home for your job, things can be more difficult. If the house or apartment you’re renting is your place of work and play, things can get confusing. It can be difficult to switch off and not work late or check your emails just before bed.
Setting yourself clear boundaries will help. For example, give yourself a rough time to turn off your computer and stop work — and stick to it. Or you could only work in one area of your apartment, such as your kitchen or office if you have one, and the rest of your flat is for socialising.
There are also small habits and rituals you can add into your daily routine to ‘trick’ your brain into distinguishing between work hours and play time. For example, listening to a podcast or music as you would normally on your commute home, or even creating your own commute by leaving the house and going for a ten minute walk.
For some, this could be taking a shower and getting changed out of ‘work’ clothes, or heading to the gym or outside to do some exercise. Whatever works for you.
If you don’t get things sorted either before you go or pretty soon after you arrive — whether it’s your commute, your home office setup, or even job hunting itself — then things can get stressful.
It can sometimes feel like you’re spending all of your time in your new country floundering about trying to fix things and put out fires — and spending all of this time on the logistics around your job and new life can upset the balance between your work and social life.
Sorting out all of these bits — with some planning in advance — will help you to feel settled quicker, and help you to balance work and social life.
This could be choosing your accommodation before you move out, or establishing what your commute is going to be like and buying a bus pass.
Sorting out the internet for your new home is also very important. This is a big one; you don’t want to turn up to your new flat in Bordeaux and not have any WiFi for the first three weeks of being there, especially if you’re supposed to be working remotely or even job hunting. Researching and planning your WiFi (and making sure it’s decent) will make your life much easier in the long run, even if it feels a bit faffy at the time.
If your new job entails working from home, then there are additional things you need to sort out, like having a VPN (virtual private network) to keep your work safe and private (there are some free VPN options here for a start).
Likewise, getting good contents insurance will protect you and your belongings in case anything happens while you’re away. This will vary depending on where you’re from and where you’re living, but there are plenty of guides out there (for example, if you’re a Brit moving to France) that can help you find the best cover for you.
One of the best things about living abroad is getting to explore a new country and have more time to roam around without the pressures of cramming sightseeing into three days.
Whether you’re living somewhere for the summer or for a couple of years, taking the opportunity to get out and about will be a big part of your living abroad experience.
It will also help you to balance your work and social life too — you can’t spend your weekends calling clients or replying to emails if you’re on a boat off the coast of Italy, or diving into a tapas bar for wine and olives.
Keeping your weekdays for work and your weekends free to explore and have fun is the perfect way of living a balanced life while you’re abroad.
You don’t have to take mega trips every single weekend either; even just learning more about your local region or getting lost in the streets of your new home town will keep you having fun and occupied.
You can do all of this solo, of course, but going away with new friends and coworkers is probably the most fun way of travelling around your new country. You can carpool, share AirBnbs together and discover new cities — which is all an amazing bonding experience, and will help you to create unforgettable memories of your time abroad.
Balancing your work and social life when living aboard can be tricky, especially at the start. Hopefully these tips will help to steer you in the right direction and ensure that you get the most out of your time away.
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