How to avoid the most common pitfalls of moving to Asia

June 4, 2014

Asia is a continent spanning thousands of miles and hundreds of different languages, cultures and values. With a gorgeous, varied landscape stretching from Oman to Vietnam, Asia truly is a continent for everyone to experience. Before you start your journey however, it’s crucial you properly prepare to avoid any nasty surprises. Here’s our top tips when it comes to relocating to Asia.

Avoid any pitfalls when moving to Asia

1. Get vaccinated

Don’t let it put you off, but it’s important to be aware that diseases and afflictions that are rare in the UK are much more commonplace in Asia. Take a look at the country you’re moving to online to check which vaccinations you need and book in your shots with your local GP just to be safe. With Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Yellow Fever and Malaria all common, it’s just not worth taking the chance.

2. The language barrier

Some countries in Asia have a diverse range of languages within their own borders, let alone outside them. That can mean complex communication if you don’t speak the mother tongue(s) – even if you’ve got a phrase book. For example, in China, there is not only Mandarin and Cantonese spoken, but also Uyghur and Zhuang. But it doesn’t end there – thanks to colonial influence, European languages like Portuguese are widespread in Macau and English is common in Hong Kong. Countries like Cambodia and Thailand also have a vast spread of local languages so do your homework (or get some picture cards to help you communicate!).

3. Mind your etiquette

Asia has some interesting etiquette, and it can be considered very rude if you get it wrong. For example, in Vietnam you should always take your shoes off before entering a house, while you should never show your anger to another person. Similarly, in Malaysia, public displays of affection are considered inappropriate, and you should never point the bottom of your feet to anyone. When it comes to business etiquette there’s even more to consider, for example, it’s important to pass a business card with both hands, rather than sliding it across a table. Make sure you do your research first to avoid embarrassment on both sides.

4. Get ready for the time jump

Time zones in Asia, when compared to Europe and the Americas, are massively different. Not only is there a difference geographically, but working days in eastern Asia particularly begin earlier and end later. Hard work is valued in much of Asia, especially in places like Singapore or Hong Kong, so get ready for long hours and demanding schedules. The career benefits can be amazing though, so don’t be disheartened!

5. Be aware of different values

Building on the previous point, the value placed on achievement and academic success is very high in Asia, as is the commitment shown to family and the local community. Remember this when you’re teaching, and don’t be too surprised by the different ideals people have when it comes to their children’s education.

6. A cookery lesson

Asian cuisine is very different to European and American food. If you don’t know your Dim Sum from your Tom Yung Gung then it’s advisable to get familiar, otherwise you could be in for a shock. While Western food is available in Asia, it’s mainly in the form of takeaway chains, and refusing to eat the local delicacies is missing the point really. Asian food is healthy, cost-effective, communal and delicious, so get involved!

7. Currencies, and how to make the best of them

Exchange rates are different across the continent, and it’s smart to check before you head off to your destination. Unsurprisingly, Hong Kong is pricey and a city centre apartment costs at least £1,000 a month on average, whereas the same apartment in Cambodia is only £220. Your wages will reflect your location however and there shouldn’t be any serious problems with living costs.

8. Get your valuables moved professionally.

Be sure to pack everything in the right order and use a professional shipping service to avoid any disappointment. Asia is a long way, so properly packing and protecting any valuable items is key. 1StopShip provides quotes and shipping to professionals moving abroad and has over 100 years of expertise in the relocations sector, meaning it’s a service you can trust.

9. Have a great time

Most of all, enjoy your time teaching in Asia. It’s a vast, beautiful place with plenty to see, with a host of massively different cultures to enjoy. It may get humid, the food may be a challenge at first and the hours may be long, but you’ll look back and remember this time as one of the best in your life.



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