Saturday, 27 August 2011

Guest post - Expat loneliness

Since I started my blog I've enjoyed reading many others. Like most people I follow those who I can relate to so since I found Mum Reinvented  I've been a big fan. As a fellow ex-pat Brit we can appreciate how annoying mosquito bites are and how rubbish BBC Entertainment is among other random conversations.  I was very excited when she kindly agreed to guest post for me and can totally agree with her subject.

I'll go and be quiet now though as I'm supposed to be having a day off .......

Expat loneliness

Something that nearly all expats are likely to feel in their new home country is lonely, regardless of whether they have emigrated alone or with immediate family. Wherever you move you will always be leaving behind friends and family, not to mention a life that despite perhaps you are keen to leave for whatever reason, will no doubt be very much different to the new life you will be entering into.

A new country, new language, new culture, new job or possibly adjusting to not working as well as missing friends and family back home are bound to test even the strongest of people and when loneliness hits it can hit hard! It's often not immediate, after all when you first arrive you're busy exploring your new home, perhaps starting a new job, completing endless paperwork or settling your children into a new school. It's when you stop still for a moment that it can all get a little too much.

So how do you overcome that loneliness? Of course the answer is simple - make new friends, but that isn't always easy, especially in a foreign country and lets face it we aren't children any more, friendships are often harder to forge as an adult. Here are a few things that may help:

Immerse yourself in the language - attend as many classes as you can. Hopefully
you will find like minded people in local language groups and if not at least
you will have the tools to speak to the locals as your grasp on the language

Find local expat groups - perhaps there is one dedicated to mums
in the area you have moved to, or even a general one and join in with any
activities arranged for kids/adults. Even just getting out is often enough to
cheer you up when you're feeling lonely.

Hit the internet - there are plenty of expat websites with dedicated forums for almost any country you can think of, some of which link to local expat groups, not to mention the wealth of information they provide.

Put yourself out there - like I said it's often harder to make friends as you get older, it doesn't seem to come as easy as it did when you were a child. So make sure you speak to the other mums at the school gate, or that friendly shop assistant, you may even find they're in exactly the same position as you are.

Of course many expats find that the friends they make while living abroad become almost a second family and some of the friendships forged will last a lifetime, no matter where in the world they end up next. Just remember if you do feel low that there are a whole load of other people feeling exactly the same as you are, you just have to get the courage up to go out there and meet them!

1 comment:

  1. I can really relate to this. I've been living in Germany for seven years now and in the beginning I felt really lonely.
    I have never joined any expat groups. But I did immerse myself in the language and after a while I started to make friends.
    It is really hard to make friends though. First there's the language barrier, then cultural differences, but my impression was that often people didn't really have the time to devote to a new friendship. Here people don't move so much. So they often have a life that's already fitted out with friendships and family. They're not necessarily looking to find someone new.

    It took time and perseverance but I have some really good friends now. The only time I'm really lonely now is during holidays. Like at Christmas. Then friends are with their families, of course.

    I do think learning the language is the key.


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