New years resolutions: For expats and the wanderlust traveller
Every year, as many as 90 % of people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolutions and goals.
Don’t make vague goals, and make sure you’re goals are realistic. Get support from family and friends if you can. Make a plan and take small, achievable steps to achieve your goal.
1- Make a bucket list and start ticking things off
If you’re like me, you have a running list, bucket list, or “things to do before you die” list.
My ‘LIST” is continually expanding and shrinking as I add new ideas to it and tick things off. Because my list is so large, I divide it into sections based on my needs:
Health, money, family, travel and places to see, language goals, etc.
Around New Year’s, I always scan my bucket list to see if I can add any of them to my New Year’s resolutions and goals for the upcoming year.
- If travelling to a new city or country was on your bucket list, why not make a bucket list of things you want to do in that city?
- If going to a Buddhist retreat is on your bucket list, maybe this is the year to move it over to your New Year’s resolutions and goals.
- If going to Thailand to learn Muay Thai “kickboxing” is on your bucket list, and you think it can happen this year, then add it to your New Year’s resolution. Etc. Etc.
Capturing your ideas:
There are so many ways to keep track of your bucket list. From a simple paper and pencil method, or if you’re a compulsive digital list-maker like me, you can use Asana. I realize using Asana to keep track of my bucket list and goals digitally may not be for everyone. Still, as a traveller, it’s great because I have my list with me wherever I go, organized, at my fingertips and in my pocket at all times as long as I have a computer or my phone.
So, choose the method that works for you!
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2- Vow to write things down.
Life can be unpredictable, making it easy to forget certain details, such as the name of a hidden gem restaurant in Paris or the order of cities visited during a backpacking trip in Asia.
That’s why you should carry a small notebook or journal to keep track of all those amusing anecdotes and memories. Putting
You can use a plain Moleskin notebook or a bullet journal like the Leuchtturm1917. Some are made explicitly for locations like the This is my Paris notebook, a multifaceted do-it-yourself city
"This is my Paris" is a multifaceted do-it-yourself city travel journal. It's hard to describe but think of it as a type of scrapbook for your memories of Paris; only it's more. It's part colouring, part creative activity book, part travel notebook and city guide in one. It contains beautiful illustrations, fun-to-do lists and unique facts about the city. It also leaves plenty of space for your stories, drawings, photos, souvenirs, cards, notes & tips for your friends.
If you don’t want to carry around your notebooks, you can convert your handwritten text into an editable digital copy using OCR technology. You can also use the voice notes feature on your phone, which also can turn your words into written words.
3- Cook real, local food and recipes.
Eating out at local restaurants is excellent for experiencing restaurant food; however, restaurant food is not what locals typically eat daily. For example, France is a country known for frog legs and escargot. It’s on the menu at many restaurants, especially in Paris, during the holidays. However, it’s not what real people eat in France regularly.
Make it your New Year’s resolution to research some recipes in the local language, if possible and start eating your way through your new country’s foods. You don’t even need to travel or live abroad to do this.
There are countless cookbooks dedicated to different types of cooking. For instance, the beautifully illustrated cookbook “Let’s Eat France” not only teaches you to cook French recipes but also teaches you about the history and culture of those foods. It has over 1,200 specialty foods, 375 iconic recipes, and hundreds of maps, charts, tricks and tips.
Older teens who are interested in French culture and French food might enjoy the beautifully illustrated book. Let's eat France, which not only teaches you to cook French recipes but also teaches you about the history and culture. It has over 1 200 specialty foods, 375 iconic recipes, plus hundreds of maps, charts, tricks and tips. I bought this book for myself, but my daughter loves flipping through it. It's a staple on our coffee table and inspires us in the kitchen.
4- Make friends and integrate into local society.
As a person living in another country, it’s easy to live in your ex-pat bubble with other ex-pats. But take it from me: You’ll never fully experience all the rich cultural nuances of a country by only making expat friends or keeping to yourself. You might think you can, but you can’t and won’t.
But making friends and integrating into local society takes effort. It won’t happen on its own. Be proactive and introduce yourself to co-workers, other parents or people you will see regularly. Invite them over or out for a drink and nurture those relationships.
The contrast of my experiences living in France pre and post-friends is like night and day. I’ve experienced life abroad through my friends who are more than happy to share their culture, from sharing their favourite French traditions to the little things like being polite, which can be very different in other countries. Sure, you can read about these things, but it’s not the same thing when you live it. It really isn’t.
5- Learn the local language or improve it wherever you are.
Speaking of making friends with locals. Life abroad in a country where they speak another language is a lonely struggle without a basic understanding of that language. But if you want to have meaningful conversations with locals, you have to speak beyond just the basics; otherwise, you’re confined to specific phrases like “Where is the bathroom?” or “Bill pleases.”
So make your New Year’s resolution real this time and start taking language classes. There are so many resources to choose from. You can even learn via email prompts such as this French learning course. There are also many free resources out there.
If you already speak the local language, work on improving your skills. There’s always room for improvement.
6- See and do more in your new country
Once you’ve hit all the touristy hot spots listed in the travel brochures, what are you left with? Why not make one of your New Year’s resolutions to visit places the locals go to? Or get off the beaten path and try something new and unusual. You’ll see a side of your new country most tourists don’t get to see.
7- Start Looking For A Job Abroad
Unless you’ve saved money for years, finding a new job abroad may be your only option for financing your life abroad. Keep in mind not all skills are well suited for working abroad, and many jobs require you to speak the local language.
Make it your New Year’s resolution to take the necessary steps to make it happen, even if it means making a career change. A popular choice is teaching English Abroad. Start by creating a resume or CV, and remember, you may need to modify your resume to match that country’s norms. For instance, in France, you’ll need to submit a CV, which has some information you wouldn’t typically include on a resume from North America, such as a photo and sometimes your age.
8- Find Love Abroad
Finding love in the new year is a popular New Year’s resolution for a lot of singles. If you’re a solo traveller or an expat living abroad, it could be your year to find love abroad. If you’re a couple living abroad, it’s also a chance to improve your relationship, which is a good idea no matter where you live.
9- Learn To Keep In Touch
Between the distance and the different time zones, it can be hard to keep up with friends and family back home. Why not make it part of your New Year’s resolution to get better at it and routinely stay in touch with loved ones? Whether you use messenger, WhatsApp voice messaging, email or video calls, choose the method(s) that work best for you and do it.
10- Start a new hobby or try a new group activity
Moving abroad is one of many ways to get a fresh start in life; however, if you do the same things you did before, then life will be precisely the same as it was previously. Take the opportunity to try something new, maybe specific to that country.
11- Do some volunteering
There is a time and a place to visit museums and tourist sites, but volunteering, whether you’re an expat living abroad or a traveller, is a fantastic way to experience a destination. Look for a cause you’re passionate about or something you might have never considered before.
12- Read more or listen to audiobooks
Reading is a great way to pass the time, especially at the end of a long day. While living abroad, though, the selection of books in your native language (which I’ll assume is English since you’re reading this) is often limited and challenging. However, thanks to technology and the internet, it’s easy to find and buy any book you can think of to read on your phone, tablet or
13- Watch TV and movies In the local language
In other words, if you’re going to watch TV and movies, don’t do it in your mother tongue. Watching movies in a foreign language will not only help improve your foreign language skills; it’s a great way to learn everyday vernacular speech. Plus, it keeps you up to date on local pop culture—more fodder for the water cooler.
14- Learn the local issues and current events of your new country
If you’re living in another country, it’s always a good idea to learn about local issues and current affairs to better integrate yourself. For instance, if you lived in France, learning about the national strikes and, more recently, “les gilets Jaunes” Yellowjackets could help you better understand the local struggles.
15- Spend less time planning and more time doing
No matter what your New Year’s resolution goals are, it’s usually necessary to do a little planning; however, don’t overdo it. Don’t get sucked into the black hole of information. A good rule of thumb is you should not spend more time planning than doing. Otherwise, you might end up missing out on valuable experiences.
Happy New Year! Don’t forget to do these two things.
Don’t forget to reward yourself.
And finally, learn from your setbacks.
Happy New Year!
Here in France, we say, Je vous souhaite une joyeuse année”
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