Jennifer Tice's Blog

How to Remain a Tourist While Living as an Expat

Posted on: February 11, 2010

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So you’ve packed up your bags and are moving overseas for a year. It might be a work contract, school, or just the desire to travel that has brought you to this new place. On the plane ride over you promise yourself you will see the sights, learn a foreign language, and embrace the new culture. However, after a month you find the novelty wearing off and you are back to your old ways, whatever they might be. While having a sense of stability and routine can be comforting while away from home for extended periods of time, you don’t want to miss out on the local culture and attractions around you.  Here are some tips for remaining a tourist, even while living as an expat:

  1. Make a to-do list: While this may seem obvious, it really helps you focus on the things that are really important to you while you are residing in your new country. Rank them in order of importance, and then try to check off one a week – this will give you something to look forward to regularly and help you shake off your routine a bit.
  2. Always have your camera with you and more importantly remember to take pictures with it! Even if you walk by the same cathedral/parliament/fountain etc. on the way to work each day, it is still an attraction, and something you’ll want pictures of while you’re gone.  Make sure to get pictures of all the people you meet along the way, so years down the road you have something to remember them by.  Memory cards are fairly cheap these days so get snapping!
  3. Blog – writing down the exciting things you are doing (or not doing), will give you a reason to get out there and make some memories. After all, you are going to want to share your experiences with everyone back home and this will help you to keep track of them all.  You can also connect with other travel writers to get ideas of things to see and do where you living.
  4. Talk to the locals – whether it’s a train ride home or waiting for the bus, introduce yourself to the locals and ask them  where to go to grab a bit to eat.  Guide books and websites are great resources, but word of mouth from someone who actually lives there is better.  Who knows what great places you will stumble across this way.
  5. Lastly – remember to have fun! After all you may not be able to return so get out and see it now while you can.  If you just want to work and save money, you likely could have done that back in your native country.  So get out there and enjoy the experience before heading back home!
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