15 Tips for Living in a Foreign Country

You’ve packed your bags and said your farewell. You have a job, a work visa and a place to stay (or so you thought). Nothing left to do but board that big-old 747 and head towards the unknown!

Exhilarating. Daunting. A little bit of both. Photo credit - yetto.

Exhilarating. Daunting. A little bit of both. Photo credit - yetto.

Living in a foreign country can be an experience both exhilarating an daunting. And if you’re heading to a developing country, that view would tend to skew towards the negative. Malaria? Kidnappers? Dengue? Just a few of the many things you need to beware of! Here are some tips to help you enjoy your stay on your quest to experience the world.

Preparation

Keep your passport safe at all times! Photo credit - leon~.

Keep your passport safe at all times! Photo credit - leon~.

1. Plan and Budget

Prepare a well-laid plan before you embark on your travel journey. How long will you be staying? What will you be doing? Where else will you be traveling, and when? How much will you be spending? This helps you keep to your budget, and you’ll be less likely to run out of money during your stay.

2. Prepare an Information Card

Have a small note card with your personal information, along with your address, phone and country of origin, and have it with you at all times. Just in case you get too drunk, or passed out from tiredness having explored too much too soon.

3. Keep Your Passport Safe, and Your Permit with You

When you’re abroad, your passport is the single most important document that you must not lose. Keep it safe at home. Don’t carry it around. Your working permit however, is another thing altogether. Keep that with you at all times, as some countries can be quite strict when requesting for identifications.

4. Talk to a Doctor

Several developing countries may have various diseases, viruses and infections that may not be present in your home country. Talk to your doctor and find out whatever extra precautions and information that you may need. Get injections ahead of time and make sure you are protected.

5. Know Your Food & Drinks

Plenty of developing countries serves delicacies that may just be your newest favorite food. But take extra measures when embarking on these culinary adventures. Don’t take things for granted. The tap water in most developing countries are not drinkable.

Getting Around

Always good to have a map with you. Photo credit - Ed Yourdon.

Always good to have a map with you. Photo credit - Ed Yourdon.

6. Local Numbers

One of the first things you should find out when reaching a new country is the local numbers for emergency (police and or hospital) and information. Find out as well the number of your country’s embassy and its (usually) toll-free help line.

7. Get a Map

One of the first things you need in a foreign country. Ask around when you are lost and in need of direction, but keep a map with you to confirm the direction. Some locals may not be able to speak English and help you out, and some others may just not bother!

8. Learn the Language

Basic courtesy. Try to have a general knowledge of the local language, after all, you are planning to stay here for a good few months. Pick up a rough guide book or grab a listening CD. Practicing with the locals is also a great way to get to know them better.

9. Befriend a Local

Local knowledge and help are absolutely invaluable to foreigners living in a foreign country. Better yet, the locals can help you get the best deals for room and board, show you the unique places to visit, the tastiest restaurants and many more. Incidentally, the easiest way to befriend a local is to simply find room for rent, as opposed to a whole house. You’ll most likely find a local family with an extra unwanted room. Or you can try staying in the student hostels as well.

10. Local Cultures

It pays to know a local who can guide you in the know-how of the country. You can find out what are the local cultures and traditions that you should know before you end up offending some of the locals, or even worse, getting in trouble with the authorities. In Dubai for example, it is forbidden to hold hands between couple. In some states in Malaysia, kissing (and even pecking) in public is not allowed. These extreme restrictions are few and rare in between, but you should know about them before hand.

11. Religious Taboo

Similar to above, you should find out as much as you can about the major religious taboos that exists in the country you are visiting. In India for example, slaughtering a cow is forbidden, because of their religious belief which holds cows as sacred. In Indonesia, Malaysia and many other Muslim countries, you should refrain from sharing that beef jerky with your host – it’s most probably not Halal.

And Finally…

You're gonna stand out. Better get used to it. Photo credit - televiseus.

You're gonna stand out. Better get used to it. Photo credit - televiseus.

12. Keep an Open Mind

You’re about to stay in a brand new country for a good few months. So don’t balk at the local cultures or traditions and stubbornly keep to the way you do things. There is a reason the locals does it their way, and you’re most probably better off following suit. Be adventurous, but be wary as well.

13. Soak Up the Pressure/Limelight

As a foreigner, you’re (most probably) going to stick out like a sore thumb. This may put you at ease, or give you untold misery. Brush off these gawking stares as simple curiosity. Just as you are intrigued by this foreign land and culture, thats how they feel about the 6-feet tall blonde-haired monstrosity that is you.

14. Keep in Touch

Update your blog, upload your photos, call back home regularly to just let your family and friends know how you are doing. Share with them what trip or activities you are planning to do, and let them know that you’ll be getting back in touch in the next day or two. That way, they will know to expect your call, and can raise the appropriate alarms should that call doesn’t get through.

15. Get-Out-of-Jail Card

Just in case things didn’t turn out for the better, ensure you are able to get back home if you suddenly need to. This can be in the form of an emergency fund stashes away, or an open air-ticket back home, or even a distant relative staying nearby that can bail you out from whatever it is you have gotten yourself into.

About the Author. Nikolas Tjhin. Freelance graphic artist and travel fanatic. Twiter-addict and social media novice. Adventure budget traveler and stay home weekend worker. Before working on Unearthing Asia, Nik’s journeyman career has seen him do work for various creative studios in Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Singapore and Jakarta. Now that he’s settled down for the time being, he’s focusing his efforts on Unearthing Asia.

Comments

19 Comments on "15 Tips for Living in a Foreign Country"

  1. niqkelodean on Fri, 13th Mar 2009 6:50 pm 

    dude, your tips are all and well helpful…but whats up with the ‘developing country’ thing? putting that in your title just makes it seem…i dont know how to put it, as if a strong binary between developing and developed still exists. (as if your tips do not apply to developed countries)

  2. Nik on Sat, 14th Mar 2009 1:19 am 

    Hmm, you have a good point there niqkelodean. Well to be honest with you this post was initially a pitch for Matador Travel, they wanted an article on “15 Tips to Staying Safe in a Developing Country”

    Unfortunately it seems like my tips were too general for their liking, and they didn’t use that, so here it is on Unearthing Asia.

    Point taken! Title is edited to “15 Tips for Living in a Foreign Country”. Thanks much!

    -Nik

  3. Neo on Sat, 14th Mar 2009 5:50 am 

    Any tips for developed countries? I’ll need it.. =)

  4. Nice Wellness Definition photos |    Body And Mind News on Sun, 25th Jul 2010 9:01 pm 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which One […]

  5. Tourist Books » Blog Archive » Tourists with maps #2 on Mon, 29th Nov 2010 10:33 pm 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which […]

  6. Cool Health Tips images | your one stop for healthandfitness on Tue, 7th Dec 2010 12:00 am 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which […]

  7. Tourists with maps #2 | Fun Shine Vacations on Sun, 16th Jan 2011 1:28 pm 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a Mar 12, 2009 blog essay entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was additionally published in an April 17, 2009 blog patrician "Tourist or Traveler […]

  8. Cool Health Tips For Women images | 17ask on Sat, 5th Feb 2011 10:34 pm 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which […]

  9. health 77 Tourists with maps #2 on Mon, 21st Mar 2011 1:04 am 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which […]

  10. Nice Women’s Health photos | Beauty&Health on Sun, 2nd Oct 2011 5:16 am 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which […]

  11. Conny on Sat, 11th Feb 2012 7:20 am 

    Hello,
    great article. This is on short what I faced when I moved from Europe to SE Asia. At first it was really uncomfortable when so many people stare at you. But living in a foreign country is a great experience and second home already.
    Thanks

  12. Tourists with maps #2 on Mon, 11th Jun 2012 10:28 pm 

    […] incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr […]

  13. Objects that represent Chile? - What To Bring on Sat, 12th Apr 2014 8:58 am 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which […]

  14. Tourists with maps #2 | Health In Melbourne Fitness & Weight Loss on Wed, 18th Jun 2014 7:57 pm 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which […]

  15. kondishen.net on Mon, 22nd Sep 2014 9:01 am 

    Tremendous things here. I’m very glad to peer your post.
    Thank you a lot and I am taking a look forward to
    contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  16. Tourists with maps #2 | Som2ny Post on Thu, 11th Jun 2015 9:06 pm 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which One […]

  17. Cool Wellness Tips images | Fitness Health Yoga on Wed, 5th Aug 2015 8:53 am 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which […]

  18. Cool Wellness Tips images | Finess Health Yoga on Wed, 25th Nov 2015 11:07 pm 

    […] an exceptionally tightly-cropped kind) in a March 12, 2009 blog site short article qualified ““15 Idea for Living in an Establishing Country.” “It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog entitled ““Tourist or […]

  19. Tourists with maps #2 | Glens Marketing Tips on Sun, 14th Feb 2016 11:55 pm 

    […] (albeit in an incredibly tightly-cropped form) in a March 12, 2009 blog article entitled "15 Tips for Living in a Developing Country." It was also published in an Apr 17, 2009 blog titled "Tourist or Traveler – Which […]

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!