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Make the most of your extended trip
Having lived in Australia since 2007, I am something of a stereotypical ‘Echo Boomer’. Born in Brazil, these days I am proud to call Sydney my home. But it’s not a move that came without its challenges.
The first challenge you might face when moving overseas to study, work or simply to travel the world is communication. These days, English is widely spoken, but depending on your destination, you may need to brush up on your language skills, be it French, Spanish or something less well know.
For me, the move from Brazil to Australia meant abandoning my Portuguese, and mastering English. Whether you need to learn the basics or reach a more advanced level, finding confidence in your communication skills can take time, and it’s likely – during the early days at least – you’ll find yourself a bit anxious about your interaction.
Earlier generations might have been concerned by the prospect of integrating with another, foreign culture. But as more and more people travel, issues such as racism have widely disappeared, and Echo Boomers are perhaps less intimidated than their forebears. For me, well, I was not afraid at all.
When it comes to preparing for the trip, there is plenty to think about. What is the purpose of the trip? How long will you be gone for? How will you afford it? Will you travel alone?
My trip was designed to help build my English speaking skills, and to develop opportunities that might one day help develop my career when I moved back home to Brazil. I saved for what seemed like forever, and I sold my car to fund the flights and ensure I had enough money to see me through when I arrived in Australia.
And then comes the hardest part of all.
Saying goodbye to the most important people in your life – the ones who have always been there for when you needed them most; the ones who know who you are, your likes and dislikes, your best and worst qualities; the ones who know your favourite food, song, colour, soccer team and know exactly when (and why) you’re in a bad mood. Yes, here they are, your family and your friends.
But say goodbye you must. And, from then on, it’s all about you. You and the tens, often hundreds of ‘new’ friends, colleagues and acquaintances you meet along the way. Because, if you’re as lucky as I have been, this is exactly what will happen.
So, if you’re about to embark on your own courageous, exciting and mysterious journey, here’s my advice for making the most of your adventure.
- Strategic vision: Know what you want to get out of your time abroad. It’s all too easy to waste the opportunity you’ve been given, so set out your goals, make a plan, and achieve it.
- Stay positive: There will be times you feel lonely and homesick. Determination and focus are the attitudes that will get you through.
- Be a ‘Yes’ man! Take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way, even if it’s something as simple as talking to someone. At the very least it will help your communications skills.
- Look out for number one. Taking care of your health – both physically and mentally – is of parmount importance. Remember, when your family far away, it’s even more important to keep a balanced life.
- Move out of your comfort zone. Don’t let yourself get too comfortable. Ask yourself every day what you have done today that was better than yesterday and how is tomorrow going to be even better.
- Become multicultural. Getting to grips with the language isn’t enough. Perhaps more important than being multilingual is becoming multicultural.
- Surround yourself with new friends. It’s always good having people from your own nationality around you, but be careful! After a while you might run the risk of forgetting to experience new cultures, friends, and food.
- Get to work! You might not want to, but working is essential. Not only will you make the money you need to stay travelling, but you’ll get to meet plenty of new people and witness a different side to the country.
- Read the news. Get to know your destination a little better by reading local newspapers, watching the news channels and listening to the radio.
- Network. For me, networking – in all aspects of your life – is the key that will open doors of opportunity.
Tell us about you. Have you travelled? How did you make the most of your journey? Do you wish you’d done something differently?