Digital nomads jump from country to country, seeking new land and... well, wifi. We constantly adapt to new environments, pushing ourselves beyond the comforts of the familiar. Arriving in a new country or city can be overwhelming but by learning how to quickly adapt, you can have a foreign land feeling like home in no time. Here is how YOU can quickly adapt to a new country.
The first 2 days are critical for quickly adapting in a foreign country. Here is what you will want to do within the first 2 days:
Take Out Money ASAP
Usually at main arrivals points via planes, trains and ferries, there are usually ATMs and currency exchanges. Sure, the rates might not be the best but it's worth the extra spend for multiple reasons.
- Not every country is into the whole debit/credit thing like America is. You may find yourself needing cash to pay for everything. The last thing you want is to be in a jam with no cash.
- Not every country will have ATMs that work for you. Many countries such as Japan, only have one particular type of ATM that will work for you (the 7 eleven ATMs) otherwise most other ATMs don't accept foreign cards. Also, watch out for fraudulent activity there. I never imagined in a million years for Japan to be a place my card would get compromised, but it was. And as was the case for someone else I know as well.
- Not every country will have ATMs that are close by. In some countries, ATMs that accept foreign cards may be few and far between. Take out money at the first spot you find and then you can figure out where the closest location is for you later.
Find a Grocery Store or Market Right Away
Get to a grocery store or market right away and grab some food for the next couple days. This will make your first two days easier. It gives you the opportunity to explore areas to eat, as opposed to stressfully and "hanger-ly" finding the first place you walk by that doesn't even look appealing.
Incorporate Previous Routines
Your mind craves the familiar. Try incorporating similar routines that you had before you left. For example, if you read for an hour during lunch, maintain that routine. If you went to the gym every day after work, create a mini exercise routine or find a nearby gym. Incorporating these routines will make your new environment feel less foreign and overwhelming.
Know Where the Necessity Spots Are
Hospital, Pharmacy, Laundry Service, SIM Cards, a close ATM and WIFI
Upon arriving to a new country, it's essential that you know where the following are located:
- WIFI: You should figure this out before you even arrive to a country. The last thing you want is a client or boss wanting to jump on a Skype call or Google Hangout unexpectedly upon arrival and not having internet.
- Hospital: Safety first. Don't want until you're in a situation to figure this out. Injuries never happen at a good or convenient time. Have some idea where the closest hospital is, know how to yell for help in a local language and know the number to call for emergencies. Check the hours too and look for a 24 hours one. In Japan I had to "hospital hop" because I went to a hospital that hadn't opened yet for the day.
- Pharmacy: Having a rough idea where this is located and their hours will alleviate some stress. When I was in Japan the pharmacy wasn't in the hospital and when you are in so much pain and want nothing more than medicine, you will want to know where the Pharmacy is asap. A sick person doesn't want to spend their time finding this.
- Laundry service: Knowing where this is will at least give you the heads up if you are going to have to pull a mission and a half to get clean clothes or if you can quickly drop clothes off at a location before heading to work. The last thing you want is to spend half a day searching where to get your clothes clean, only to waste half a working day.
- SIM Card: Sure you may have internet at your hotel, but it's critical to have a backup. After all, life as a digital nomad is completely dependent on internet.
- Close ATM: Figuring out a close ATM spot will save the stress of wandering around a city for hours, with zero cash, in a country that barely accepts credit.
Looking up these places in advance by either Googling, asking on forums such as Hashtag Nomads, or joining Facebook groups specific to travelers in that area will help. Star these places on your Google Map for easy reference. Figuring this out right away will save you the headache later on.
Figure Out Public Transit or Vehicle Rentals
Knowing the easiest and best way to get around a new city will save you time, money and the headache. You don't want to spend a work day wandering around aimlessly. Otherwise, you will get behind on work and just feel more stressed.
Remember, each country is a bit different in terms of the best way to get around. For example, you will want to rent a scooter in places such as Thailand and Bali, whereas in Europe you might want to take public transit or Uber. Each country is different. The sooner you familiarize yourself with the best transportation option, the better.
Take a Walking Tour or Explore Your Neighborhood
The best way to not feel overwhelmed is to know yo ur surroundings - at least your immediate surroundings. Check out your area within a few blocks and even try to take a walking tour.
Incorporate Pieces From 'Home'
I realized the importance of incorporating pieces from home into a new environment when I was in Turkey having a mini mental breakdown. By incorporating a few pieces from your 'home' environment, (ie plants, photos etc) it naturally brings a level of comfort and familiarity. In turn, this will make it easier on you mentally when adapting to a new country.
Get out there!
If you follow all of these steps, you will be prepared to venture out into your new country with confidence and will be on your way to feeling at home sooner rather than later.
What tips do you have for quickly adapting to a new country?
Let me know in the comments below!
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