I’ve been in Mexico for about 5 full days now and the experience has been quite amazing. Throughout this time, I have focused on learning or doing several tasks to help make my assimilation be as smooth as possible: To ensure that I push myself out of my comfort zone, to actively become a part of the community in which I am living now, to be sure that I have ample resources available so I can participate fully. After reflecting on this week and these tasks, I think there are at least 5 things one must do when moving to a new country.
1. Cell Phone
If the cell phone you have from your country of origin does not work in the new country, I think it is important for you to obtain a method of communication with your new country. You can use the phone as an address book to keep track of new people and places, you can document your experience through photos and videos, you can find places through the GPS. But most importantly, you can contact people in case you are in a sticky situation. Depending on where you move to, these types of situations may vary.
2. Learn your address
Knowing where you are staying, your neighborhood, and what resources are nearby will help provide a sense of security. Being able to find “home” allows you to be more able to explore. Additionally, learn the best ways to get back home so you retain control if using a form of transportation controlled by someone else. You’ll know if they take you in the wrong direction or trying to make your taxi fare higher.
3. Find an ATM that works
I’ve been told not to exchange a lot of money when I first enter the country. Finding an ATM is paramount to be able to obtain funds. It is important that you find an ATM that is safe and that you feel comfortable with. I had an issue with an ATM where it was not clear whether the numbers I was selecting were in Pesos or US Dollars. Both times using the machine, I got an amount of money that I was not expecting. Thankfully, I didn’t take out too much and overdraft my account.
4. Learn local driving customs
If you are going to be living in the new area for awhile, it is important to know the driving customs so you are equipped if there ever is a time where you need to drive. What to do if pulled over? What to do if in a car accident? What are the signs you should be mindful of? What are the speed limits? Ask around and research before you drive in an un familiar place.
5. Learn about local health care options
What kind of insurance do you have? How will it work with local healthcare? Where is the nearest hospital? I have learned a lot recently about what I should do in case of medical emergency. Thank goodness because it is different than what I am used to.