22 Sep 2020
Tips for surviving COVID-19 in a new city
Relocating abroad is a challenge at the best of times, with much to ponder and plan for. So you’ve now taken the plunge by moving to Asia just as the world was literally turned upside down. What we once thought of as normal is now anything but, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting almost every facet of daily life. It now feels like all the rules have been rewritten. The main concerns about a new life abroad – work, fitting in socially and your children’s education – are even more relevant now in the age of COVID.
Settling in at work
It’s important to hit the ground running in a new job role. With travel restricted and business premises closed, Zoom has become the de facto office. While this allows companies to function, it can be frustrating for new assignees keen to build rapport with new colleagues. It is not the same social dynamic when conversing via a webcam. Keep in mind it will take some time to cultivate these relationships when in-person communications are restricted.
Schools are transitioning to online learning, which is not an ideal start to life, but it does have a silver lining. Enrolling at an international (or local) school in a foreign land can be extremely daunting for young children. Remote lessons give your child a priceless opportunity to ease themselves into a new curriculum and schooling system before the difficult task of trying to fit in socially at school. When the time comes for in-person classes, they will likely feel less anxious and more confident.
Fitting in socially
The simple recreational pleasures we take for granted like a weekly coffee morning with friends, or eating out have sadly taken a hit. This hands-off, social distancing lifestyle can make new arrivals to a city feel a little isolated. The good news is that wherever in Asia you are, you can guarantee there is someone else just around the corner likely feeling exactly the same way. This is the time to reach out and lean on the support of fellow expats. There are countless expat associations focused on business, leisure or lifestyle to make your transition a little less stressful.
Returning to normal
With all of this said, across much of Asia, life is slowly but cautiously returning to a sense of normal. Border authorities are beginning to relax restrictions to allow foreigners with work in the country to enter. Schools are reopening and the social scene is returning. All of this comes with new norms such as social distancing, contact tracing, mandatory wearing of face-masks and temperature checks at the entrance to virtually every building, ensuring as best they can that a normal life can be enjoyed.