Moving overseas for work is a very brave thing to do and comes with a great sense of adventure. It requires a lot of willpower, and most times, the adrenaline rush of wanting to meet new people, to experience a new culture, and to try new things can spur expats on to take on this adventure.
This sense of excitement can quickly wane however when expats begin to feel out-of-place once they arrive at their destination. If you were just on holiday, it might be easy to pack your bags and leave for the airport and go back to your home country, but that's not exactly possible in this situation!
Mixed Feelings that Come with Travelling Overseas
Sometimes our imagination of living overseas can quickly turn into a frustrating reality due to alienation or cultural shock. Then, the feeling of homesickness sets in, thereby creating endless mental health distress and inconvenience. More so, these days, enjoying your stay in a new region could be more daunting due to the global pandemic guidelines.
This could restrict your freedom of exploring and doing things you love to ease the feeling of hopelessness. The pandemic didn't necessarily change the lifestyle of expats, it only exacerbated the day-to-day challenges they already always faced.
“You Can Never Be Too Prepared”
There's often nothing easy about being an expat. It can be very hard sometimes. The challenges are sometimes just like climbing Mount Everest. The mirage of social media and how the countries abroad are portrayed on the internet makes it look so easy but settling in takes a lot of bravery and a "leap of faith". The funniest part is, even expats that move abroad prepared are still in for the surprise of their lives nine out of ten times. So, you can never be too prepared.
Challenges Faced by Expats Overseas
Here are some common challenges faced by expats who are stuck overseas away from family.
The sense of adventure of expats suddenly dissipates when it becomes difficult to adapt to the culture and diversity of their new home country. First, it begins with the inability to communicate effectively in the language. Expats begin to look back at how easy it was to do things from their own home country and how completely alienated and clueless they are in this new region. The easiest of chores can become hard, creating so much frustration that the feeling of regret begins to set in.
Emotional Strain on Relationships
One of the biggest fears of expats is the disconnection and loosening of close relationships and family bonds from having to live and work in a new home country. No doubt, there are tons of real-time social media applications (e.g., Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp, and so on) that allow expats to reach out to their family, but it cannot be compared to physical touch. Sometimes, depending on the area the expats move to, internet connection or time zone differences can pose a major obstacle to communication.
Challenges of Settling
Settlement for expats in their new home country is a big deal. First, they need to get accustomed to the new routine – figuring out how to shop for groceries, getting everything they need for each day, and probably how to feel more in control as each day goes. Expats who are not generally open-minded find it difficult to fit in and adapt to their new country due to the unfamiliar atmosphere it poses.
Another issue could be acclimatizing to the weather of the new region. Sometimes, this could create a serious inconvenience for the expats as they are not used to having so many weather fluctuations where they come from and might not have prepared the right attire for such occasions.
What Are the Ways to Adapt as an Expat?
Moving overseas might have its challenges, but with the right attitude and a new sense of adventure, things could work out fine eventually.
Make Your New Home Feel Like the Old
Train yourself to be kind and gentle with your new neighbors. Make it easy on your part to make friends. Welcome a new routine, like having breakfast at a local diner, taking a walk, making new friends, hanging out, and improving your perspective of your new environment by relating more to the people around you. This will help you settle quickly and easily in your new home country.
Dedicate a Specific Time to Spend with Family
Pick up your reminder and set an alarm. Create a specific time to speak with your family every day. Never miss a day talking to your family. Have a specific date night where you do a video conferencing or call with your family and watch your favorite shows together. Making this a recurrent routine would ease the everyday stress off of you, make you less lonely, and maintain the bond between you and your family. This will create a clear pathway for you to keep enjoying your new home.
Watch Your Best Shows from Back Home
This could be one of the best ways to relieve yourself of the stress and challenges you face as an expat. Although, you might not be able to just watch your favorite TV show in your new home country due to certain geological restrictions. Not all TV channels in several countries support "on-demand streaming services", but there's a way around that. Downloading a VPN allows you to hide the IP address of your device and set your current location to your home country and you can stream whatever local station you want.
Find New Hobbies
Surprise yourself by finding a new spot where you can meet new people and have small talk, fun chats, and group reading. Attend local events, carnivals, outdoor scenes and take part in some fun activities or programs in your new neighborhood. This won't happen if you don't leave your apartment.
I know this is real life and not like one of those Hollywood movies, but come on! Never say never. Make it feel a little more like home by finding a spot you can always go to relax. It could be a store, cafe, bookshop, or a park. This would drive you to meet more locals or even expats like yourself who can show you a string of what they have learned over time. The best part is, you are both new to the country and can explore things together. This presents a chance to try new hobbies like hitchhiking, skydiving, going on a road trip, and more.
Adapting to a new country is never easy but it can only get better. For this to happen, you need to be patient with yourself, be open-minded, and find balance within the new culture of your new home country. More so, keep a close distance to your own culture, family, and routine as much as possible. Understanding how to manage this effectively will certainly help you transition easily into your new environment.