Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the struggle of living abroad. This is mostly because two dear friends of mine settled abroad for the very first time in their lives and now, three years later, are still struggling to adjust. As someone who has moved every few years since the tender age of 17, I’ve lived in places I’ve loved, and in places I’ve loathed, and found ways to deal with both. So I’d like to talk a little about how to cope with living abroad, even when you don’t really like it!
Make it your home
Something I’ve noticed with my friends and other people who struggle to adjust to living abroad is that they look at their situation as too transitional to bother actually making a home for themselves. While a light at the end of the tunnel can always help you get through a difficult situation, approaching living abroad like it’s a prison sentence definitely won’t make things easier for yourself. Instead of having a neither here-nor-there attitude, settle wherever you are. Hang up pictures, find ways to create a happy home environment that you love, make yourself feel at home. Even just hanging one photo can make a world of difference in how happy you’ll feel!
While it can be tempting to just hang with colleagues at the local pub after work, it’s not healthy to limit your friendships to the people you work with. Creating a tribe of friends outside the workplace will lessen the stress of living overseas, and is a fresh break from office drama (because, admit it, we all tend to talk about work when we’re hanging out with colleagues). Even better if you can find other expats who understand what you’re going through and can offer a strong support system to help get you through the really blue days.
Discover your city/country
Something I’ve noticed plays a big part in whether or not someone feels some level of happiness when living abroad is how likely they are to get out and explore. Trust me when I say, I’ve been there. I’ve lived places I’ve absolutely hated, but they all have one thing in common: my quality of life and emotional health improved exponentially when I was willing to get out and see what these cities and countries had to offer. This can be as varied as uncovering speak-easy bars, or taking hikes out in the country. Instead of sitting at home in front of the TV missing your home country, how about seeking out new experiences? Finding things to love about a place you hate can only make life easier!
Remember it won’t last forever
You shouldn’t look at your time abroad as a prison sentence, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look forward to what life will be like once this period has passed. Dreams and goals are an important part of keeping you healthy and happy, and there’s nothing wrong with having something to strive towards. Sure, what you’re going through now is tough, but it’s important to remember that it won’t last forever. Things will get better. Someday you will live somewhere where you feel completely happy. And it’s okay to dream about that day.
Have you ever lived somewhere you hate? How did you cope? Share your tips below in the comments section.