Preparing for Asia – Things Westerners Won’t Be Used To

Apr 25, 2018

To a Westerner, preparing to live in Asia can be exciting and daunting, primarily because of its diversity. Chances are, your new home country will be drastically different from everything you are used to, and you’ll be greeted by a wealth of new experiences and more than a few challenges.

Here are some things you’ll need to get used to once you make your big move.

Standing out

Everything about you – from your eye color to your height – will stand out from the vast majority of locals in Asian countries. This is especially true in rural areas. That being said, be prepared to get a lot of stares. The Huffington Post shares that it’s common for locals to even say hello, ask for a picture, or shout random things like ‘Obama’ at you.

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English is spoken in many parts of Asia, with countries like Singapore, India, and the Philippines having it as an official language. You don’t need to learn the local dialect, but it does help to know some basic words. If you’re travelling to China, be sure to keep the Teaching Nomad basic phrase guide on your phone to help you out. It’s also good to have a translator app to further ease communication.

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Temperature and humidity

The sun can get very harsh in this continent, so you’ll need lots of sunscreen and/or an umbrella when you go out. In the evenings, you’ll most likely need to stay in a place with air conditioning for comfort. Leesa recommends keeping your bedroom between 66 and 70 degrees for the best chance of sleeping well. This small adjustment, along with breathable clothing and lots of water, can make your evenings more restorative and help you get ready for the humid Asian days.

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To a foreigner, Asian cuisine can vary from mildly surprising to downright bizarre. Be open-minded and try different things to see what you like. There’s a good chance you’ll find several dishes in your new home country to your liking. You’ll also find that there’s a level of artistry in Asian cuisine that is fascinating to watch.

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Other expenses

You’ll be pleasantly surprised that a lot of your day-to-day expenses are cheap. Food, hotels, and the like are affordable. Although in countries like China, haggling is an important life skill to get commodity prices further down. CNN also recommends being extra careful when it comes to hailing taxis also recommends being extra careful when it comes to hailing taxis by insisting on using the meter or by hailing cabs through new booking apps that help drivers be more accountable.

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Cultural nuances

Finally, be wary of actions that may be alright in Western countries, but may be considered taboo in Asia and vise versa. For instance, slurping when eating noodles can be considered rude in the West, but is actually a sign of appreciation in countries like Japan. The thumbs up sign can be considered rude in Thailand, while placing chopsticks vertically in a bowl of rice is a sign of bad luck in China. The Conde Nast Traveler shares that a blanket rule is to take your shoes off before entering temples or homes and not to take pictures without permission.

Moving to Asia to teach can be a very rewarding experience, and can itself teach you so many valuable life lessons along the way. Do your research well about the way of life in your new home, and be sure to keep your mind and heart open.

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