Thursday, July 4, 2013

Guest Post : Cheap Activities for Expats

Today's post is brought to you by Sara Collins. Great tips for Expats! Read on ... 

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Between making the actual move to another country and adjusting to a new life there, expenses for expats can add up quickly. With all the costs involved in relocating, it’s ideal to be able to explore a new place without adding to the list of expenditures. Luckily, there are a number of ways to experience your new home’s culture and become immersed in the local community, while simultaneously saving some money for the essential stuff.

Transitioning to living abroad can be a stressful and isolating experience, especially if you have trouble speaking or understanding your new country’s language. While all of those audio language courses and guidebooks might help to an extent, they never quite seem to fully get you in the rhythm of speaking the local vernacular the way real day-to-day immersion can. An inexpensive way to stay busy while simultaneously being immersed in culture is to enroll in a language course. Like in the U.S., many local universities, secondary schools, and community centers will offer free or inexpensive language courses for adults. Not only will these classes help improve your understanding of your new country’s language and culture, it will also introduce you to a number of other people also trying to learn a new language.

A great way to practice those new language skills while also taking in lots of culture is by exploring museums near the area you’re living in. In addition to the more traditional art museums found in most major cities, there are many other types, including cultural and region-specific museums, as well as natural history museums. Many cities offer discounted passes to residents and visitors alike (these are sometimes called city cards) that allow cardholders free or reduced-price access to the many museums and other activities in your area.

Now that you’ve been practicing your new language and wandering through museums, it’s time to get outdoors! While traveling to the natural wonders of a country can be costly and difficult, exploring parks and other urban green spaces is both affordable and a great way to discover new neighborhoods, shops, and even get a better understanding of the city’s history and culture. Before heading to a park, it’s worth doing a little research to find out if there are any historical monuments, landmarks, or shops within walking distance. This inexpensive activity can be a great way for visitors and residents alike to sightsee and discover new neighborhoods.

Exploring new areas is also a great opportunity to take in the history of your new country through its defining architecture. An oft-overlooked aspect of art and history, architecture tours offer a glimpse into the past of any particular place, as well as highlight styles that are specific to certain cities and districts. By visiting libraries, famous citizens’ homes, and government buildings, residents can learn a great deal about their new home’s history and culture. Architecture tours can often be found online or can be simply be undertaken by engaging in some light reading on a city’s most significant styles before strolling around its older corners.

Cultural heritage sites are another great way to both explore a city and learn about the its culture. UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization), known for its World Heritage List[1], also maintains a register of landmarks of cultural heritage. This registry[2] contains festivals, arts, and performances, among other things, that are culturally particular to a specific country or region. Experiencing some of these cultural intangibles is the perfect way to accompany the more subdued vision of history that you’ll get by visiting museums.

Exploring a new country can be as exhausting as it is exciting. After all this travel, you might want to find your local community center to inquire about ongoing group events, such as card or chess tournaments. These community centers may offer those reasonably priced language courses, as well as classes in such subjects as cooking local cuisine, knitting, or other crafts that are popular wherever you are living. No matter what your budget may be, there are plenty of inexpensive happenings all around you!

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Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a website that helps users stay informed about personal finance topics, like choosing between lump sum or monthly payments.




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