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Another Country

November 30, 2010

Guest post by: Alexsandra Mitchell

Another Country is more than the acclaimed novel by James Baldwin, it is the substance of hope for many who seek different life and cultural experiences through submersion.  When one decides to make that move to ‘another country’, there’s a myriad of responsibilities and actions one must take to assure that transition is as smooth as possible.  With my recent move to Dakar, Senegal, came a series of to-do list and months of preparatory  actions to make sure all bases were covered (and even with all my planning, some still hadn’t been taken care of prior to my move!).

Long before you prepare your going away celebrations and tearful airport departures with loved ones, here are a few tips on how to assure that your next move is your best move!

  • Register with the local US Embassy.  If there are any unstable events in the area where you will be living, this will allow the embassy to have your information for notifications and emergency updates.
  • Go to your local bookstore and purchase any written materials you can on the country you are moving to, for its customs and traditions, and places to visit while on your stay.  I like ‘s series of books. They have great insight on hotspots and tips for countries all over the world!
  • Make sure you check with the CDC website for all required shots, medications, and vaccinations for your travel destination.  Your health is your number one priority while away, and this can ensure that you are your best you while away!
  • Do all routine doctors’ visits previous to departure for you trip (dental, OB-GYN, overall check-ups), just in case the country you are moving to does not have adequate medical treatment, there is nothing like being sick in a foreign country! Fill all current prescriptions that will be needed for the duration of the trip.
  • Purchase proper attire for the regions climate, and pack light.  Chances are, if you are staying for an extended amount of time in another country, you will be coming home with more than you left with.  Take it easy on the luggage to avoid hefty over-weight charges at the airport.
  • Check with the embassy’s standings on the foreign country to see if you need a visa for extended stay there.
  • Get a power adapter with the proper voltage for all electronics.  There is nothing like being away from home and the ones you love, and being unable to connect to them because of something as silly as not having a power adapter (I know, because I made this same mistake myself!).
  • PLEASE pack at least one round of a commonly prescribed antibiotic, and Imodium AD for unexpected emergencies, as well as a small first aid kit (you and your body will thank me later).
  • Make copies of all travel documents including passports and visas, in case the originals are lost or stolen, such that getting a replacement won’t be such a hassle. Theft of passports in airports is more common than one may think. On a trip a few years ago, several people in the group I was
  • traveling with had their passports stolen, just as we were waiting at JFK to check-in!  Keep your passport in a safe place as you travel, and while in your new home.
  • Take care of all bills and debts prior to your trip.  It is easy to forget about everyday responsibilities while caught up in the excitement of a big move.  But you will regret not handling your business while away when the consequences begin to set in.
  • GET SKYPE!  Thanks to the Internet and the wonderful people at, keeping up with loved ones at home is easier than ever before just by downloading the software on your computer and having people back home do the same.  With this software you are able to call and video call people at home (computer permitting) for free if the two of you are online simultaneously.

Dealing with many of the aforementioned tips can be dreaded tasks, but they are all worthwhile in the long run while away from home!  Lastly, plan the largest, most fabulously-lavish going away party you could ever dream of!  Getting a chance to spend time with family and friends before your big move  may allow you to feel more comfortable and secure, knowing that you have the love and support of people and home (and it doesn’t hurt to party either).

Cheryl Walker-Robertson is Chief Protocol Office of Protocol International. Protocol International is a service company that specializes in training and image enhancement through workshops, seminars and one-on-one coaching. Visit to learn more.

Image by hn. via Flickr

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