10 Expat Experiences You Should Check Off Before Leaving For Good | ExpatWoman.com

10 Expat Experiences You Should Check Off Before Leaving For Good

Before you leave the country for repatriation or new opportunities elsewhere, here are some experiences we recommend crossing off your list

Posted on

6 March 2024

Last updated on 6 March 2024
10 Expat Experiences You Should Check Off Before Repatriation

Before you leave for good, consider our list of experiences to check off before your final farewell.

Whichever way you look at it, being an expatriate abroad is a big life-changing decision — and there's no doubt about it that life as an expat expands our horizons in ways we never thought of.

For many of us, our expat lives are spent working on our careers, or focusing on marriage and family. By the time we pack up and leave, whether it's to repatriate back to our home countries or relocate to another country for greener pastures, there are some activities and experiences we might have missed out on.

1. Dine with the locals

One of the best things about another country's culture is the food, and who better to understand local cuisine than the locals themselves.

High chances are they'll know the best hidden dining spots that most tourists and other expats may not be familiar with, so we recommend befriending a local and getting to know their culture through their cuisine.

Best things to do as an expat before you leave for good

2. Cut ties with the people that don't serve you

While it's a difficult choice to make, cutting ties with people who no longer serves you will ultimately add value to your life. Instead, maintain connections with the friends and loved ones you've made during your time as an expat abroad who bring meaning and joy.

As you repatriate or continue your expat journey elsewhere, it's important to remember that we have limited time on this earth, and it's best to nurture good relationships in the long run. Keep in touch with online calls or video chats!

Best things to do before leaving a country permanently

3. Volunteer for a local cause

Volunteering is an enriching experience that can bring a sense of purpose and meaning in people's lives. While you're still an expat abroad, find a cause you're passionate about and volunteer.

Whether it's offering your support at a marathon run for charity, helping out at a local food donation initiative, joining a cleanup drive, or fostering abandoned stray dogs or cats, look for a volunteering activity that can do good for yourself and for the community.

Best things to do as an expat before you leave for good

4. Create a savings fund

Life as an expat abroad can be exciting, with so many things to do, dining spots to try, and places to shop - the temptations are endless! But it's important to not be frivolous with spending.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things to Consider When Repatriating

If you're not saving your money while you're an expat, it's time to get started - and pronto.

5. Learn the local language

If the country's language is one you're not fluent in, we recommend befriending locals who can help, take up some language classes, or just watch some helpful videos online.

We're not talking 100% fluency like a native speaker (however, that's still an admirable goal!), but learning even a few phrases or how to read the local language can be a pretty important skillset to have.

You might even impress friends and family when the occasion allows!

What to consider when repatriating back home

6. Be prepared for reverse culture shock

First-time expats will remember the culture shock they experienced when they first moved out of their homes. From changes in workplace environments and the food to the weather and local rules, etc., being an expat means expanding our behaviours, skills, and tolerance thanks to the values and cultures of the host country.

Long-term expats might experience a form of reverse culture shock, where they might struggle to readjust back into their old life. To prepare for this, we recommend travelling back home at least once or twice a year so you can re-familiarise yourself with your culture of origin.

If you're planning on relocating to a new country to start a new expat life there, it's best to visit the new host country a few times so you can have a smoother adjustment period when you finally move there.

How to deal with reverse culture shock

7. Explore every nook and cranny of your neighbourhood

Before you leave your host country for good, get out on foot and explore the secrets of your neighbourhood by immersing yourself in what the local area has to offer.

Even if you've lived there for years, there might be something new you haven't tried yet or seen before.

8. Get into the local music and dance

While this can be tough if you're a natural introvert, the expat experience means pushing yourself to try something new outside of what you're familiar with.

The local music and dances are one way to immerse yourself in the host country's culture, and you might even unlock a part of yourself you didn't know you had.

Best things to do as an expat before leaving a host country for good

9. Shop at the local markets

If you don't already have some authentic souvenirs to remind yourself of your life at the host country, we recommend skipping the big shopping malls and centres, and instead shop small at local markets and fairs.

10. Learn how to cook the local dishes

It can be easy to retreat to the food you know and feel the most comfortable with, but learning how to cook at least one local dish can be a fun activity. Choose the dish you like the most (or at least the one you can realistically remake), and learn it so you can keep a piece of the local culture when you leave.

You can even choose to share the dish by cooking it at your next family or friends' dinner or potluck lunch.