Moving abroad for a pro contract means dealing with a lot of “firsts”: first night in your new apartment, first practice, first time grocery shopping, first time ordering in another language. It’s honestly quite overwhelming and exciting at the same time. But before you know it, you have established a routine.
The reason I want to talk to you about those first 30 days abroad is that they are vital in setting up good habits. Habits that will help you maximize your opportunities and time in this new country.
I know, I know, the jet lag can be agonizing. The new language surrounding you feels exotic and strange. Getting used to your new professional team and coaching staff takes a toll on your energy. Trust me, it is easy to find excuses to put things off to a later date. “I’ll unpack everything later. Why should I find the best supermarket and restaurant right now? I cannot possibly start language classes yet. I am way too exhausted.” Sounds familiar?
Even if you won’t be living in this city for the rest of your life, treating your time abroad like a temporary stint doesn’t help your overall success and international experience. We all know a contract abroad is not for forever. But by setting up a routine that allows you to quickly integrate in your team and the city, you will be able to look back at a tremendous opportunity for self-development well past your pro sport career. So make those first 30 days abroad count!
Ideas for your first 30 days abroad
One thing I personally like to do during my first 30 days abroad in a new city is to take a different route to work/practice everyday. Of course that won’t last forever, but it forces me to explore the areas around my places of contact. The reason I do this is from a personal experience when I lived in China.
I always drove to the same supermarket that others had recommended. It took me half a year to find out about a local farmer’s market, tucked away in a shabby looking building, with amazing fresh veggies and fruits. Not making that mistake again, my friends!
The biggest transition challenge for many pro athletes is that your daily schedule isn’t filled to the rim with activities. Even with two-a-day-practices, you are the one that is in charge of down time to make sure you recover, stay connected, sleep enough, and socialize.
When you move to a new country, you have the unique opportunity to establish new healthy habits and routines. It’s up to you to set yourself up for success in the first 30 days abroad.