More than 9 million Pakistanis live, work, and study abroad, as per the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development 2019-20 data. Ranking as the 7th largest diaspora globally, the country has a strong presence worldwide. Almost 53% of these Pakistani expats are based in the Middle East region, with Saudi Arabia housing more than 2.6 million.
The country’s diaspora plays an essential role in promoting, nurturing, and sustaining a mutually beneficial and productive relationship between the host country and Pakistan. Still, Pakistani expats can face troubles right from the time they land.
Here are a few challenges faced by Pakistan’s expats and what can be done to settle in— depending on one’s personality and situation:
7 Challenges Faced by Pakistan’s Expats
1. Expected or Unexpected Culture Shock
Being an expat is the process of continuous learning where you endlessly struggle to acquire the customs, norms, and culture of the host country. You need to be careful not to hurt someone’s sentiments, or your words aren’t bullying for a particular community. Pakistan’s expat might face a significant cultural difference due to religion, events, customs, and norms.
2. Not Knowing the Language
Imagine landing in the host country and being unable to book a taxi from the airport! The language barrier is one of the major problems faced by expatriates— as it can discourage you from ordering food, travelling places, communicating with neighbours, or just anything that lets you live abroad peacefully. We suggest you buy local language guides and books to roam around while interacting with new people and spreading love.
Here’s the best part: You can keep these small-sized guides handy. Pakistan’s expats can have a major language barrier problem as English is not the native language in Pakistan, and Urdu, i.e., the native language of Pakistan, is spoken only in Pakistan and India.
However, expats can use Google Translate, Duolingo, or AccelaStudy app to learn any language.
3. Struggling to Find New Friends
Transience is the characteristic of expats! But no matter how much tendency you bear to be transient, it’s always challenging to surround yourself with new people in an unfamiliar location. Being an expat, you’ll understand the real value of your family and friends. If you want your expat life to be cheerier, consider this situation exciting— go out, meet new people, make new friends, and look for fun events and activities. You can use platforms like Meetup to explore expats from your country as this way, you’ll feel less lonely.
4. You Miss Your Family and Friends
It goes without saying: An expat starts missing friends and family by the time they land in the host country! The feeling of loneliness and homesickness can become so intense that it can ruin your work and living experience in the host country.
However, globalization, as well as technological advancements, have reduced the distances. Expatiates can make cheap calls to Pakistan via international calling apps, social media platforms such as WhatsApp or Facebook in seconds.
For example, when moving to the UK, you can choose the best mobile plans to connect with your loved ones in Pakistan. Talk Home brings you the best calling rate, i.e., 4c per min on landline and mobile numbers in Pakistan. Not only this, but you can get the amazing bundles to make local and international calls and texts seamlessly at the lowest rates and connect with your loved ones in Pakistan!
5. Visa and Immigration Woes
Expatiates usually face immigration and other legal issues in the host country. As described from the name, an Ex-pat is a candidate who has abandoned his homeland citizenship to work in another country— often temporarily. Thus, obtaining work visas and work permits from the host country is not as easy as it looks. Expats must take a look at all the legal rights and regulations of the country they plan to go to and check whether they are eligible for a work permit before deciding to move. You can always check the visa information online or contact professional advisors.
6. Financial Difficulties
Finding a job that compliments and pays for your expat life is another challenge faced when adjusting abroad! Expatiates will face financial difficulties, especially for the first few months— be it finding the right job, meeting the expense of food, or finding a roof to live under. But, Korn Ferry revealed a study in which they stated that “there will be a labour gap of more than 85 million skilled workers by 2030”.
To find an opportunity for yourself to fit in the business world, you can contact overseas employment firms, explore apps such as LinkedIn, and make a CV (that goes with the trend of that country).
7. Communication Issues Back Home
The last issue that distress expatriates are the lack of communication back home, leading to misunderstandings and depression. We cannot deny that communication over the phone is not the ultimate solution to deal with the family problems that require an expat’s physical presence— and it can lead to relationship gaps. Things you can do to improve your mental health to have a peaceful expat life are getting proper sleep, eating three meals a day, and getting a psychiatrist’s support (if needed).
While going back home, you can again think of a new assignment and deal with your family as an expat.
Living as an expat in an unfamiliar location, dealing with new people each day, eating different food, and having cultural differences can be an intimidating experience— And not everyone can handle the situation well.
No matter how transient you’re as an expatriate, it’s always challenging to deal with cultural nuisances, language barriers, customs, expenses, immigration issues, and loneliness. However, we suggest you think of a new beginning and spend your first morning in the host country in full excitement and joy.
Consider the sunshine a blessing, and enjoy the city like an explorer, and you’ll get life experiences as an expat!