Newcomers Network On Arrival
By Sue Ellson
However, if you can make every effort to create a good first impression when you arrive, this will make a significant difference to your settlement outcome. You can’t change things like the weather or the people you meet, but you can make an effort to be prepared for the weather and have someone ready to pick you up.
Let’s look at a variety of things you can do for your arrival in your new location.
1. Prepare beforehand
If you arrive in your new location with nothing but local cash, you may find yourself hungry, without a bed and very stressed!
What time of the day or night will you be arriving – and what arrangements can you make before you do arrive to make this transition as comfortable as possible?
If possible, arrange for someone to meet you and take you directly to somewhere that has already been prepared for your arrival with beds made, food and drinks for at least 24 hours and enough instructions and resources so that you know what to do in an emergency (like how to call for an ambulance or reach a doctor).
2. Expect the worst
Assume that anything that could go wrong, may go wrong. For instance, you could:
- lose your luggage
- have inappropriate clothing for the weather
- find that all shops and transport services are closed
- get lost whilst driving or have an incorrect map
- not find the key to your new housing
- have lengthy travel delays or be travelling on your own with young children
- be unable to communicate with local people as you have not learnt the language
- find that your mobile phone doesn’t work
- have all of your batteries run flat on your phone, computer, camera etc
- be shocked by what you see on arrival
- not have regular internet access for days, weeks or months
You may have even more items to add to this list (or your friends can).
3. Have back up plans for all of the above
It is always a good idea to have emergency supplies with you – a small first aid kit, a change of clothes, some food and fresh water. Have some extra clothing in case the weather changes or you do not have access to your luggage. Carry coins for public telephones and have a recent printed map. Carry fully charged devices (phone, tablet and computer) so that you can access free Wi-Fi internet.
Double check all of your arrangments before you leave, preferably in writing (and have it in writing on paper with you as you may forget some details). Have important information in printed format (not just on a screen in case the battery goes flat). Carry spare fully charged batteries for important items. Have essential phrases written in the local language so that you can communicate if necessary by pointing to written instructions.
If you have never been to the location before, see if you can find any photographs of the local area so that you will have some idea of what to expect when you arrive, even if it is just a picture of the airport. Be prepared for unusual sights, sounds and smells. Be thankful for all the things that go right and try not to worry about anything that goes wrong – see it as an adventure and a challenge to conquer.
Ask other people you know who have moved for their best tips and advice and see if you can speak to some people in the new location before you arrive so that they can warn you about local hazards (like which people to pay at the airport to carry your luggage or which local transport to avoid).
4. Pace yourself
If you have just finished a long plane trip, remember that you will not be operating at your full capacity and it will take several days or even weeks to recover from jet lag. You may also need some extra rest to recover from th busy time you had leading up to your move.
Be kind to yourself and make time for some extra sleep or naps and try not to fit too much into every day. If you are offered help, consider using it but also be willing to do whatever it takes to make things comfortable for yourself.
Have realistic expectations. It will not be possible to do everything at once and in a short space of time. Make plans and then double or triple the amount of time you have allocated just in case it takes a little longer to complete.
Share concerns or worries with a trusted friend (which may not be your new work colleagues) and find out information rather than battle on without the facts you need to be successful.
5. Gather information
Ask questions and read posts (before you arrive if possible but also once you arrive) on:
- relevant travel forums like Lonely Planet Thorn Tree Travel Forum, VirtualTourist Forum
- expatriate forums and blogs like Tales from a Small Planet, ExpatExchange, Expat Forum
- travel advisories from your home government like Smartraveller, USA Government Travel Information
- and individual home country forum groups and blogs (like Americans in Europe or British in America) on
Yahoo! Groups, MSN Groups, WordPress, Google Blog Search and Meetup
- social and business networking websites (see Worldwide Expatriate Networks)
- local information portals (check who they are published by to ensure that the information is reliable and not just a sales pitch)
It is also a good idea to go on some local tourist trips to familiarise yourself with your new location (ask as many questions as you like on these!).
6. Create connections and keep things organised
Keep the new information you collect in an easily accessible format and create a database of all of the new people you know so that you can keep in contact with people.
Remember to let your friends and family know your new contact details – phone numbers, address, email address etc and try sending them a couple of photos too. Let them know you have arrived safely. Make an effort to personally thank people for their assistance – hand written cards are a treasured item in today’s electronic world.
7. Additional article that may be of interest
Moving Checklist and Household Inventory Tools from the Australian Furniture Removers Association.
10 Things to Do in the First 24 Hours of Your Trip from Independent Traveler.
Arriving in Victoria Checklist from the Victorian Government with some commonsense tips.
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