1. Eat healthy.
This one is a classic: After indulging during the festive season, lots of people are looking forward to plainer fare. How about giving your dietary changes a local twist?
Find out where to shop for fresh produce and explore some farmer’s markets, or try new recipes from the local cuisine! (Unless you happen to live in Bavaria: Our traditional dishes are excellent, if done right, but healthy they probably aren’t.)
2. Exercise more.
Another classic, and the resolution that’s broken soonest. If you have this on your list, don’t aim to go from Couch Potato to Iron Man in two weeks. Instead, look for a way of exercising that appeals to you and that’s easy to include in your schedule.
Do you live in a bike-friendly city like Amsterdam or Copenhagen? Start cycling to work. Have you settled in a peaceful neighborhood where it’s safe to venture outside round the clock? Go for a brisk walk in the morning and at night. Did you move to the mountains or the seaside? Take up hiking or swimming.
If you can’t stay motivated on your own, consider joining an InterNations Activity Group (e.g. running or yoga). It’s easier to get off the sofa if you have friends to motivate you.
3. Make new friends.
Expats tend to be busy people with international careers, crammed schedules, and address books full of friends and business contacts across the globe. It’s hardly surprising if you don’t have much time to socialize with strangers.
Give it a try, though! Of course, you shouldn’t give up on keeping in touch with old friends. But it’s never too late to make new ones: At the next expat event, strike up a conversation with someone you’ve never met before.
4. Write more “snail mail”.
In the age of social media, we’ve all spent countless hours in videochats with family members on another continent, liking the Facebook photos of friends we left behind, or tweeting about our adventures abroad.
However, a good old-fashioned letter is a thoughtful gesture for your nearest and dearest. If you’re lazy, you could settle for sending a series of picture postcards to your loved ones back home.
But if you’re the overachieving type, why not put together a little surprise package with gifts from abroad? E-mails are fine and dandy, but you can’t unwrap pixels on a screen.
If you want to give back to others beyond family and friends, volunteers are always needed – no matter where you are. Find a cause you’re passionate about and ask if they need some helping hands.
You don’t have to be Mother Theresa to support those in need. Everyone has a talent they can use to “pay it forward”. You’re an amazing salesperson? Look for fundraising opportunities. You’re a professional web designer? Perhaps an NPO needs a new homepage. You love teaching? Someone could profit from your mentoring skills.
Check out the InterNations Volunteer Program: Maybe there’s already a volunteer group nearby.
6. Read a good book.
According to a survey conducted by Stiftung Lesen, one in four Germans doesn’t read any books at all. On the other hand, 3% form a “hard core” of bookworms who finish at least 50 books per year.
Why not go on a journey of the mind without leaving your living-room? Travel-themed books are perfect for expat readers: classic travelogues such as John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charlie or Nellie Bly’s Around the World in 72 Days; modern bestsellers like Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent or Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, or rarities of the genre, for example, Tété-Michel Kpomassie’s An African in Greenland.
If you’re feeling bold, dip into your destination’s literary classics. Well, if you’ve moved to Russia or France, don’t start with War and Peace or Remembrance of Things Past. That’s the literary equivalent to a marathon – and the surest way of never sticking to your resolution.
7. Broaden your horizons.
If reading isn’t your cup of tea, you can acquire new knowledge and skills in other ways. Perhaps your boss can be persuaded to pay for a seminar, or you could sign up for a long-distance learning course to rev up your CV.
Learning something new about your host country’s history or culture might be another fun way of expanding your mind. Are there any local lectures or evening classes to attend? Whether it’s called “adult education” (UK), Volkshochschule (Germany) or folkeoplysning (Denmark), this is a good place to start.
8. Learn a new language.
This resolution is pretty self-explanatory for expats. Even if you don’t need the local language at work or in school, your time abroad is the best opportunity for improving your skills.
And if it happens to be the same as your mother tongue, maybe you’ve always wanted to brush up your French or find out how Chinese writing works. After all, language is the key to any country and its culture.
9. Play the tourist.
Yes, an expat is rather different from the casual visitor. But while you are busy getting things done, from filing paperwork to furnishing your apartment, it’s tempting to fall into a mind-numbing routine.
Set aside some time to explore your new home, and don’t be afraid to start with the obvious sights. It’s still a fun break from your lengthy to-do list! Once you’ve settled in, you can start straying off the beaten path and smile at all the tourists who don’t know the town as well as you.
10. Move (again).
You’re suffering from wanderlust and an incurable case of boredom? Perhaps it’s time to move again.
If you aren’t an expat yet, you might want to give this some serious thought. Planning your new life abroad could be a true challenge for 2015 – and the best New Year’s resolution ever.
And what are your New Year’s resolutions for 2015?
(Image credit: iStockphoto.com)