We like to travel like we’re expats or locals instead of doing everything the typical touristy way, something we put into the UnTour philosophy in every possible way. That’s why this list offers some good ideas for what to do when you’re traveling as well as for people who are preparing to live the expat lifestyle.
The full list (with an UnTour contribution) is here, but here are a few good ones:
If you’re going to live in a country that has a very different culture and language make sure you research the culture. Online blogs give the best insight to possible negatives, frustrations e.g Cairo sleep deprivation!!!! Not funny! Check out online local expat support communities – if none exist study local people CAREFULLY & copy – I didn’t & have regretted it! I live in Egypt and if I were new to this country I would be much nicer to irritating officials than I was for the first 4 years – I learned the hard way that smiling, nodding & asking about family etc. goes a long way! Pick your battles & don’t sweat the small stuff! Learn the language, be good with neighbours.
I had a 13 month expat assignment in China while I was working for Dell, Inc. My best advice is to realize that the experience changes you, but the people back at home have not changed. So, realize that you will be different when you return and that your relationships may need to adjust (and eventually your old crowd will get tired of your “when I was in China” stories).
Also, keep an open mind and try out as many new cultural experiences as you can. You may not like all of them, but you will be a better person for having tried (plus you get great stories!).
1. Learn the language. Americans and many other westerners already have the reputation for being ignorant (we don’t speak any foreign languages) and arrogant (won’t bother to learn any). I was well received for at least making an effort. I mean, I am in THEIR country. Right?
2. Adapt to social differences asap. Find another American who has lived there a while and ask them what you need to know. There are little nuances that you would never think are different. We think “everyone in the world does it like us” – not so.
3. Befriend locals. You will learn the language and social differences much faster from locals.
If you’d like to eat like a local while you’re in Shanghai, check out one of our street food tours, culinary experiences in a Chinese kitchen, or gourmet tour of all the regions of China, check out all of UnTour‘s food tour offerings!