Deciding to live in another country is an exciting yet daunting experience. From the excitement of a new adventure, immersing yourself in the culture, and exploring new places, to the challenges of adjusting to a different lifestyle and navigating potential culture shock. Preparing for your move is essential.
It’s been one heck of a journey! We moved from Wales, UK to the Czech Republic. It’s a military move with my husband, so many things were sorted for us – I can’t comment on how to find houses or the legality of moving to the Czech Republic. But I can tell you about the stressors of moving and how to prepare yourself for a new country, new language, new culture and new schools.
Ironically, I had my hen party in Prague…now that’s a city definitely with visiting.
For the majority of the time, my husband and I have been married but living apart. When we made this decision, we also decided that if he’d have a posting abroad (postings are normally a 2-year period), we would move with him. After discussing the possibility of a move to another country and the implications it will bring, we decided to go for it. You only live once…so make the most of the opportunities that come your way.
Change is good – as long as it is managedSir Richard Branson
Be prepared for throwbacks
When the time came for my husband to start his new role, our house wasn’t yet available. So he went by himself. The kids and I moved out 4 months later. It was a long 4 months! Not because we were living without him, we’ve nearly always lived apart.
But because I had to pack up our house, hold down a full-time job and look after 2 kids. Thankfully I had a lot of family and friends’ support to get me through. After some consideration, I did decide to leave my job a bit earlier than planned because I was struggling to do everything.
I would highly recommend hiring professional movers to pack your things. I did all the small… umm, personal things 😉 but they wrapped and packed all the larger things, kitchen bits, furniture etc etc. They load the van and unload it on arrival. It took them about 2 weeks to get our things to the house in the Czech.
Fast forward to us moving. I packed up the car, strapped the kids in and drove to a London airport, picked up the hubby and continued to drive to Czech.
Plan your route
Whether you are driving, flying, ferry crossing or any other mode of transport – plan, plan, plan. And then plan a contingency! We didn’t do this, and it was stressful.
There was a hold-up checking in on the EuroTunnel, we weren’t sure if we would catch our train. Make sure you are checked in beforehand, have entered all your details etc and have all your documents to hand. Thankfully we made it. We stayed overnight in France to break up the journey, but it was still a long drive. Especially with a toddler!
(Look out for a new post about tips for travelling with a toddler)
The weather was also against us and so took a bit longer to arrive. Maybe it would have been an idea to check the weather forecast too! Finally got to our new home just before midnight.
adjusting to a different climate
Different countries have different climates and natural environments. This may be the most challenging part of adapting to life in a different country. The weather can affect how you dress, the activities you enjoy and what you do in your free time, and even your mood.
The weather in the Czech Republic is amazing. Actual seasons! I think I had forgotten what seasons are living in Wales, it’s mostly rainy, damp, and windy with 2 days of sunshine!
Nah Wales is a pretty awesome place too!
In the Summer months, we were out quite a lot cycling, walking through forests and spending days down by our local lake. As the Czech Republic is landlocked, lakes are normally used in the same way as people would go to the beach. We take a picnic with us, all the necessities and our paddleboard and spend all day there.
During the Winter months, we tend to go ice skating and skiing when we can – however, climate change is determining the snow quantity! We didn’t have the proper winter/ski clothing, so we had to buy some. I highly recommend second-hand shops, websites, apps, and Facebook marketplace for things like this. You don’t want to spend a fortune on them if you’re unsure you are going to like the activity, or in our case, use them for the Winter season again next year.
experiencing the local traditions
It is definitely worth looking into what local people tend to do with their spare time when thinking about moving to a different country. Look for classes or groups you could join or follow, Facebook is great for this. Getting to know the locals is a great way to learn the way of life, any interesting places to visit as well as events that are happening.
This is how we got to experience local traditions like St Martin’s Day and St Nicholas. I love learning about the different traditions they have here and immersing myself in them as much as I can. The language is a bit of a barrier as we don’t understand the speech during shows and can’t join in on the singing, but we enjoy listening to them – especially our 2-year-old son.
Talking about the language, it’s one of the biggest challenges of moving to another country. Even when you have some understanding of the language (we totally didn’t have any understanding of Czech before we moved), it’s likely that you won’t master it until after you arrive.
This can be frustrating and lead to communication problems. It helps to prepare yourself by learning as many words and phrases as possible beforehand. I found a few different apps to help me with this, there are many out there including Dualingo, Nemo (this was my favourite as you can search for specific phrases and save them in your favourites so you can quickly access them when needed), and Drops (this one didn’t have Czech but I’ve been using it to learn a little German).
The Czech language is quite difficult to learn and understand… but we get by with some of the common phrases and words. Like “I’m sorry I don’t speak Czech, do you speak English please?” is a common one I use 😆
schooling in a different country
Our son has settled in nursery…finally! Once we were out here, we searched for English-speaking nurseries and went to view a few. We loved the one he’s at – it’s both English and Czech language. I think he is beginning to speak a few Czech words too which is great.
It took a while for our daughter to settle into her new school. She’s currently studying her iGCSEs at the International School. Although I don’t think she’ll actually sit them here as we are due to return to the UK a few months before the exam period. Again, the same with arranging our house, the military arranged a lot of the documentation we needed for the school transfer.
Being in an International School, I think, has opened the world up for her. She has friends from various different countries and is learning about their languages, cultures and traditions. She has heard university presentations from all over the world, allowing her to think about opportunities for further travelling, studying and living in other countries.
So here we are for another year. I don’t know what our next chapter holds but we will take it on as a family and make it work. We’re resilient like that.
I encourage you too to take on opportunities that come your way, no matter how scary they are.
You’ve got this and I believe in you.