Emigration is one of the hardest things that one can do, without question. Some leave their country only for a holiday or to gain new experiences and encounter new cultures. Others do the same when they decide to complete academic studies abroad. Then there’s another group of people who decide to leave their motherland to settle down in another country permanently. Their motives may include financial struggle at home, but it’s also possible that those individuals simply cannot find themselves in the culture of their homeland.
As a Hungarian, I have also been living abroad for five years and have experienced the same difficulties of emigration and integration. In this article, I wish to provide you with some information that might be useful if you plan to move abroad.
Required Documents & Bureaucracy
One of the first steps is checking what documents your destination state requires from immigrants. As an EU citizen, you do not need to have a visa to move to another country which is also a Member State of the bloc. However, if you are from outside the European Union but wish to settle down in Ireland, for instance, you will be expected to meet the requirements of eligibility for a visa. If you qualify for a visa, you also need to keep in mind that visas can cost a significant amount of money, regardless of which country we speak.
Besides a visa, you will also need a work permit or other necessary legal document to be lawfully employed. It is the case in every country, you’re going to need an ID. If you wish to emigrate to the USA, you’ll need a social security number. If your destination is the United Kingdom, you’ll be expected to get a national insurance number. If Ireland is your destination, then you’ll be required to get a Personal Public Service Number.
In addition to getting legally employed in a state, you’ll also need a current bank account to receive your salary in a legal way. To open a current account, you may need to have a work permit of some kind, Acquiring the needed documents is generally the first step to most people.
The beginning is always bumpy, even harsh at times, yet once you move to a certain country, it takes roughly a month to get all the required documents. But once it’s all done, you are given a green light to start building your new life.
Personal Funds, Budget, Finance
This links to the previous section, you need to pay attention to the financial aspects of emigration as well. Before departure, you must gather as much information about your chosen country as possible, which includes the financial situation in that state. You need to be aware of how expensive that country is and how much money you possess. Flight tickets, getting legal documents for employment, securing housing, these all cost a lot of money.
Let me explain, besides purchasing a flight ticket to your destination, you will need to have a solid budget to pay for a visa and to secure housing by paying a deposit and the first month’s rent. Moreover, getting health insurance must be taken into account too. But you will need to have more saved up bucks in case of emergencies. As I have mentioned already, receiving the legal documents to work takes time and once you have them, it takes even more time to find a job. Always calculate realistically, if you have enough money to live for at least the first 6-8 weeks without any income after arrival, then you should be okay. The first two months are always the hardest, so keep your head up! It may seem difficult at first glance, but it can definitely be done.
Knowledge of the Spoken Language
It is crucial to learn the spoken language of the country you choose to move to. The better you speak it, the easier the transition will be. It always comes in handy to pass a language examination prior to arriving, so having a certificate that demonstrates your linguistic skills. Although you need to keep it in mind that you’ll only be able to master that language and reach fluency in it, if you speak it actively every day. That means you need to live in your chosen language environment for years, so be patient. Don’t expect yourself to become fluent overnight: it takes years.
After your arrival, you should only speak in your mother tongue with your family and close friends. You can do this via Skype, phone, or whichever way you intend to keep in touch with them. I would encourage you to spend as much time with native speakers as possible. Even when it comes to housing, I would recommend for you to join a household where only native speakers live. The sooner you tackle language barriers at the beginning of your journey, the better it will be for you, not only when it comes to work and communicating with colleagues but also when it comes to entertainment and your free time too.
Getting Acquainted with the New Culture
I cannot sufficiently emphasise the importance of having the necessary knowledge of your chosen culture. Read as many books on that particular culture as possible, watch numerous films about it. The point is to gather as much information about that country as possible. Check out its musical traditions, read about its history, taste all that its gastronomy may provide, and quintessentially, have as many conversations with locals as possible. Pubs can be the right place to do that – in the post-covid period, of course. The more you know about the new culture, the easier it will be for you to integrate.
Building a New Social Network
By settling down in a foreign country, you may not only face financial hardships and issues with red tape, but problems might occur socially as well that can also affect your mental health. Leaving everything and everyone behind that you have ever known is extremely hard, no doubt about that, and the first couple of years of emigration are the hardest in my opinion. Homesickness, loneliness, and social alienation are the constant companions of immigrants at the beginning, but if you are willing to integrate then it will not last forever, fortunately. Therefore, when it comes to entertainment, I would encourage you to attend as many parties and cultural events as possible. Catch up with your colleagues for a pint after work, check out gigs or exhibitions, join sport organisations, or attend martial art classes at the local dojo. The point is to do any social activity you like that involves meeting new people. The more social activities you do the more chances you will have to build up a new social network and to tackle loneliness.
Emigration is not for everyone. If you intend to leave for a foreign country, plan to spend at least one full year abroad. That would be enough time for you to see whether you like the new environment and whether you are integrating successfully or not. If you still feel homesick and lonely after living abroad for a year, then you should change your plans or consider moving back home. There is nothing wrong with that either by the way. But even if emigration and living abroad does not work out for you permanently, living in another culture for a while can be beneficial for you. Your future is brighter when it comes to linguistic skills and knowledge of other cultures for living in a globalised civilisation.
I hope the previously unfolded ideas will provide you with some new and useful information. I can only recommend living abroad: it teaches you a lot about yourself, who you are as a person, and what you are capable of. It is not easy and you must be courageous to get into it. Yet if you manage to do it, I can assure that you will not regret it. Earth is full of beauty and good people, all await you to explore and encounter with them. All you need to do is to step on the road and let your feet carry you. As J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “Home is behind, the world ahead.”