Moving to a new country is an emotional rollercoaster. You are prepared for the upset of leaving but being absorbed in a whirlwind of visas, new job, language barriers, and traditions can only keep you busy for so long. Once the dust settles and you are into the routine of your life overseas is usually when the loneliness creeps in. Missing your family, friends, and the familiarity of life from your home country can be miserable, but we have some of the best tips to make the transition as comfortable as possible.
Even before you are waiting on the tarmac ready to take off, spend the weeks up until your departure reaching out to expats in your new country via social platforms. Blogs are not only a great place to glean information, but the comments section can be a great place for advice and to strike up friendships. Equally, there are a number of groups on Facebook that you could join. Simply type in the name of your country and ‘expat’; you will be surprised the number of pages that pop up.
Similarly, there are a multitude of fantastic free apps for making friends abroad. Meetup allows expats to host events and promote them via the app, whereas Butter and Friendable are the friendship version of a dating application.
It can be extremely tempting to hide in your apartment outside of working hours, but this will inevitably make you feel very alienated. No matter how shy and uncomfortable you feel, make sure you socialise regularly. If colleagues at work suggests drinks and dinner, you had better be the first one to say yes.
Those who are introverted or suffer with shyness can find expat life intimidating. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and not settling for a life in front of the TV every evening will not only grow your circle of friends and support, but also help you become more confident.
Get Involved in New Things
If you want to make friends outside of the workplace, take up a new hobby. Has salsa dancing always been on your mind? Or, do you fancy a five-a-side match every weekend? Attending classes with have you making friends with individuals from countries worldwide, as well as locals.
Especially in countries that have unique traditions and customs, having a network of nationals can help you integrate into society quicker. Furthermore, if you are struggling with the language, it is likely your new-found friends will show you the ropes.
Minimise Contact with Home
Emails and text messages are okay, but try and steer clear from long phone calls and Skype sessions during the first few weeks of your relocation. It is hard enough leaving your loved ones behind, let alone having to relive that feeling every time you hand up the call.
Furthermore, those evenings that you spend liaising with friends and family means you are not out meeting new people. Understandably you will want to remain as close to those at home as possible and it is all about getting maintaining a correct balance between home and your new life.
Read Other Expat Stories
Before or during your life overseas, scour the web for blogs run by expats. More often than not, they will have stories of their new lives which are full valuable advice for dealing with all aspects of expatriate life, including loneliness. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the writers of these blogs and make sure to check out online platforms that have expat community sections. Even if these individuals are not in the country you are moving to, it can be great to check out their feelings and converse with others who will have been in the same boat as you.