Every so often as travelers we want to explore a country for a lot longer than a normal holiday can give us time for. So we go through the process of booking a travel visa which will allow us to be in the country longer. This allows us plenty of time to do what we want to do and we’re not always looking at our calendar and biting our nails as the time to leave gets closer and closer. Why go on these long trips? Is it just to have a change of pace in life? Maybe it’s to chase after a career in another country. It could also be because we have a unique passion that can only be explored if we are in that particular spot for longer than a month. [This is the one that applies to me! I want to stay in Paris for a year to write a particular book!] Whatever the reason, you should have a list of things you need and want to do while abroad.
Call it your travel or exploration itinerary and the first thing on it is to get yourself informed!
What are your US Visa Options?
The following video provides way more detail than I could ever write!
While you’re abroad you might get stopped to show your papers. You are a foreigner and that means you will always need to keep certain documents on your person to prove you are legally allowed to be in the country. Your visa will only be granted when you show proof of a flight itinerary for visa application which demonstrates that you came to the country via a legitimate method. It will show that you booked a flight, that the airline then confirmed your ticket. It will also show where the flight might be stopping on the route to your destination. Your papers will show that you boarded the flight from a certain location and thus arrived in the country in a particular way. Never be without your visa documents so you can show them to any police officer or border agent that might mistake you for not being in the country legally. I lived and worked in Switzerland for 3 years and always had this information on me!
Have a Goal
You could be someone who works in the geological or archeological industries and wants to do a dig site for work purposes. You could also go to various dig sites that are not part of your normal work just because you are incredibly interested in them. You might also want to go to another country because you want to explore something that means a lot to you. Like the cuisine! I want to eat my way through every inch of Japan! You might also want to go on a sporting adventure such as climbing, sailing and or cycling. Whatever the reason is, it must be powerful enough to give you the drive to be in another country for many months. Don’t forget that there are so many hurdles you will need to jump every single day. Chief among them might be a language barrier, but you might also have trouble with the money, the road networks, making friends, etc. So if you are going to live in another country for multiple months or possibly even years, you need to be driven and motivated in whatever it is you came to do.
Have a Plan
Can you have a plan to explore a nation you have never visited before you have actually touched down on its soil? Well, it’s yes and no because you should have a semi-laid out plan but it should be flexible enough that it can be added to and changed quickly. For example, you might want to travel to Nepal to see the various mountain villages and explore the local population and their way of life. However, if you do get the sudden urge to climb mountains, you should have enough room and space in your travel list to make that be viable. Bear in mind you might be in this nation for many months or possibly years so if you do come across something that you believe is bucket list worthy, then be willing to adapt for it. Pick out the best sights to see and the best cultural experiences. For example, if you’re going to New York for the winter, then obviously the Christmas tree lights at the Rockefeller building are something to put on your list. However, if there is a famous artist you like that has come to down then perhaps going to their concert or museum exhibition is something you can put on your list quickly.
Love this video from Lavendaire (she is so infectiously positive!)
Seek Out Your Tribe
One of the things that newly arrived visa holders have trouble with is making friends. However, nowadays there are plenty of local groups and clubs you can join that is made up of expats. Not all of them will be from your own country but you are all in the same boat. You can swap tips as to what to do for grocery shopping, finding medicine, using local transportation as well as currency exchange rate businesses that offer the best deals. By going to these groups you can also meet people that are doing the same kinds of things you like to do such as exploring, sightseeing and perhaps even in the same industry as you. There’s a familiarity which can ease your nerves and allow you to calmly transition into a new culture and new way of life. Who knows you might make friends and become close enough to the point that you might want to move in together and make the living situation easy both mentally and financially.
When you go abroad for a long time you have to prepare yourself for culture shock. There will be times when you just want to come home but if you have thought long and hard about your goal, you will have the motivation to carry on. It might be very important to your job so stick with it and find some groups that are for newly arrived visa holders to find some friends.
How about you? Do you have any tips for long term stays in a foreign country? Please share!
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