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travel documentsTraveling overseas takes a whole new turn when it extends to months... or even years.

Living and working in a foreign country means more than learning new languages and customs, and it's never quite like what it seems in travel books and brochures.

Like any new experience, living abroad has its wonderful moments — and then there are those times when all you want to do is run screaming for home. For most expats, however, the moments of happy discovery far outweigh the bad times.

How to live happily abroad

Make sure you have a realistic idea of what living in another country will bring.

Are you expecting a food shop down the street and nightspots open until the wee hours? Maybe you'll prefer commuting to work from a rural area complete with storybook scenery. Either way, find out as much as you can about the ambiance and the local customs of the place you are going to call home. This way you can mentally prepare for most of the changes you'll face.

The best part of living abroad is that most locals welcome strangers, if a bit slowly at first. Help will be available if you learn how to ask for it. Learning a foreign language, where applicable, certainly helps.

The number one tip from expats living abroad? Get out of the house -- and your comfort zone -- to meet the locals! You will find no more valuable a friend than someone who can "show you the ropes" whether it's on the social scene or for advice on local shopping, banking, or business dealings.

Ultimately, if you understand that the way things are done at home is not better nor worse (and you learn to appreciate the differences) then you'll find that your life in another country can be one sweet adventure.

Just up ahead, get more expert tips on a successful transition to another country, featuring other expatriate's views in forums, chats & related online communities offering an insider's look on what it's like living over there....

More about ex-pat living around the Web:

Video tips: Living in Singapore, with expat advice that applies to any foreign country.

- Expatriate central with hundreds of forums to exchange info, ideas and practical advice with other expats in countries worldwide, together with newsletters, feature articles and an extensive directory of related resources.

Expat Focus - Major browsing for all the latest information on the ex-pat front with suggested blogs, moving guides, financial tips, advice on health insurance, busy forum, free newsletter, and lots more.

iAgora - Resources and community support for internationals and expatriates everywhere with insider information on housing, jobs, travel, and practical info as well as a forum and chat.

Expatica - User-friendly resource for for expatriates living in, working in, or moving to the Netherlands, Germany, France or Belgium, with news, community, feature articles, housing and jobs info and an online dating service especially for expats.

Transitions Abroad - The digital version of the print magazine, and a virtual clearinghouse of information and resources for work and study abroad programs, plus news, feature articles, related links and publications.

Tales from a Small Planet - Online magazine featuring humor and real-life tales from the expat perspective including message boards, e-lists, related links and resources.

Expat Financial - Expatriate & Related Links - Comprehensive list to every known expat resource on the planet with content descriptions.

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