What You Need To Know Before Moving To A Foreign Country Part Two

Now that you’re in your desired country, what do you do?

Did you pack lightly like I told you to? Good, you’re off to a great start. Unpack. Set up your new place so it feels homey to you. After all, you will be living here for…well, however long you signed up for. Possibly longer.

Sisters, I sincerely hope you did not pack high heels. Or low heels. Actually, just stick to flat shoes. You will be doing so much walking over rough terrain- even in the cities- that you will die if you don’t have comfy shoes. In fact, our Circuit Overseer’s wife wears a really good pair of nice looking tennis shoes, and she has no problems. It’s a little weird sounding, but it’s a great idea. I’ve started doing that, and O how nice it is not to have massive blisters every day. This is not the place to put fashion first. Be practical.

Remember that camping trip you went on that one time? Where you had to shower at the campground and there was only cold water and no water pressure? Yeah, it’s kinda like that. Get used to it. Most likely you are in a hot country where that cold water is going to be your best friend, and if you are in a cold country, I’m really sorry. You should also buy a water pitcher so when there is only a stream of water you can still rinse off. We use ours constantly.  Also, you should probably buy a bar of shampoo or all-purpose soap while you’re at home, because it’s a lot easier than packing shampoo bottles and you don’t know if you’ll be able to find shampoo where you’re going. (Target sells some fancy shampoo bars online.) Some people really get out in the jungle, it’s good to be prepared. If the jungle isn't your thing, don't pack shampoo. Buy it down here.

Learn the bus route. You probably don’t have a car, and some places are too far to walk to. Buses are much cheaper than taxis too. Even if the taxi is only a dollar to go anywhere. It adds up- plus you can get service time on the bus talking to the people around you. If you’re really bored, just hop on a bus and see where it takes you. It’s a good way to learn the city. Or you might get lost. But everyone needs a good story, right?

While you are learning your way around the town, the very, very first phrases you want to learn in the local language are directions to your house. Only you know where you live. Unless you live at the missionary home. Then everyone knows where you live.

If you are not in a first-world country, bring your own toilet paper with you everywhere. Just keep half a roll in your purse. I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Just do it. Oh, and have a supply of hand sanitizer too. Zach says it will save your life. Be prepared to sanitize everything, even your bag of water before tearing it open with your teeth. 

Have a local brother or sister give you a tour of the town. They should be able to point out some landmarks and good places to shop, eat, or avoid.

Be prepared to be in a cash society. Most shops will not accept your credit or debit card, so find a reliable ATM and take out money each week or so that will cover you for everything. We use a debit card at the market, but have about $50 a week for incidentals, food and taxi/bus fares and saldo (minutes) for our phones.  This is also where the emergency/backup fund I previously referred to comes in handy. You never know when your ATM card is suddenly going to get rejected while ordering takeout or otherwise spending money.

Speaking of money though, realize that there is an exchange rate and you are probably actually paying more than you think. For example, I think it is very cheap to pay 100 lempiras for a fast food meal, when in reality, that’s 5 bucks, and that adds up. It’s not actually cheaper than the States, much as we like to think it is. Granted, some things (rent, utilities, bags of water) are cheaper. But if it’s something you could get in the States/Canada/Where ever you are from then you are probably paying the same price or more than it would cost in you back home due to import fees. Don’t go overboard on your spending because you think everything is cheaper. It’s not.

Get a local cell phone. Don’t wait. It proved absolutely invaluable in our case. (Refer to http://zachnrobynn.blogspot.com/2012/02/were-here.html) Also, while it can be done, it is stupid expensive to text/call home. Get Skype or MagicJack for that. If you do have a smart phone, download an app like Whatsapp or Voxer, so you can text/chat with people back home for free.  If you have a cell phone with a SIM card at home, you can probably bring it to your new country and just get a SIM card. In our case, we had to buy phones when we got here, but that’s ok, cause a cheap phone is like $15. And you don’t have to worry about it getting stolen, cause it isn’t painful to replace a cheap phone.

And while I’m referring to previous posts, another lesson to take away is don’t give out personal information unless you have to, because you never know where it will end up. They just don’t care as much in certain countries. Today I saw two women at an ATM with a stack of at least 40 ATM cards, I think they were pulling out money for everyone in their office. That just screams Identity Theft. Watch your cards and your ID if you have to give them out.

Be careful with the meats you buy. In general, only buy from the market where things are labeled, or places where you know how the animal was butchered. I don’t want to get too graphic on descriptions for those of you with weak stomachs, so I’ll just say be careful. Many countries are big on eating blood products, and they aren’t always labeled as such. In fact, if you want to go vegetarian or only eat processed chicken, that’s probably not a bad idea.

And the most important tip- meet with the congregation and get out in service with them as soon as possible. After all, that is why you are here. Being around the friends will help with any homesickness you might be experiencing. Plus, it's a good way to get to know the area. If they tell you to learn certain phrases for service, learn them quickly and learn them well. Listen to the advice they give you, and you won't go wrong. 

Congratulations, you are now a need-greater. You are doing something so amazing, and Jehovah will bless your efforts in his service. You are going to learn to rely on and trust in Him on so many new levels. This is one of the best experiences you can have, and you will not regret it!

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