There you are, in a new country. You decided to live abroad and you made it! Awesome! Then, some weeks go by and suddenly a fear creeps in.
Do you start thinking to yourself, “What the heck am I doing here? Is all this hustle even worth it? Why did I make the decision to move?”
Have you had any of those thoughts? I sure have, every single time I was in a new country, and even more than once per country. You and I are not alone, because most normal human beings have self-doubt sometimes.
Here’s the deal: with every big change you make in your life, having serious doubts about everything you’re doing and deciding creates a bit of inner conflict inside your head. Yep, very normal. After living abroad for many years, I learned to turn those thoughts around very quickly.
Turn those doubting thoughts around.
• Remember your reason: What was your reason for moving? What was your motivation for taking this decision? It could you wanted to travel, or you wanted a new career abroad, or you wanted better weather, living cheaper, discovering the new, etc… You left for a reason and it’s good to remember it to reassure yourself when in doubt.
• Your new house is your special place to come home to every day, so make it as homely as possible. Decorate it to make it warm and cosy. Put up pictures of family and friends.
• Your one thing: ‘’What is the ONE thing that you are emotionally attached to and take with you in all of your moves abroad?” is a question I received from a journalist. Without thinking, I said, “My big, brown teddy bear.” My parents gave it to me when I was 16. Whether it’s a teddy bear, a blanket, a picture, or a painting, you have some item that you feel attached to. These objects are important to make you feel home, wherever you are.
• Make the New Country Your Country: If you have a hobby or regular activity that you enjoyed while you were back home, try to keep it up while you are away. If you like to workout at a gym regularly, you should find a gym you like where you can frequently exercise. If you like to eat out, find a restaurant that you like and try to make it there a couple of times a month. You will soon get to know the staff, or other regulars, making it a familiar place for you to visit if you are ever in need of company. The same goes for bars or coffee houses. They are all excellent places to socialize if you put in a little effort and are open to meeting new people.
I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I’m like, ‘my back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate it. You embrace it!”
– Kobe Bryant
• Create a routine: it’s the best and quickest way to feel at home, and also, it helps you to integrate smoothly into the new culture.
• Be a New You: Maybe you’ll find something you always wanted to do, but never found the time to do it back home. That’s the beauty of being an expat and the part I love most about moving to a new country. Nobody knows you yet, and even when you meet new people, they don’t know your past or family and friends back home. Basically, you can start from scratch and turn over a new page, a blank one that you can fill in as you wish. If you decide to dress entirely differently, change your hair colour or have your lips injected, nobody will think anything of it. You are free to be whomever you want to be!”
• Reset your priorities: Starting a new life in a foreign country is the perfect time to reassess your priorities. What do you want to do? Who do you want to be? It’s never too late to reinvent yourself!
• Enjoying your new destination by embracing the new experience and appreciate everything it offers you. Don’t focus too much on what you are missing back home but instead, actively choose to cherish your new location and any hobbies and activities that wouldn’t have been available in your home country.
• More things you can do include:
o Arrange for trips back home.
o Keep in touch with friends and family on a regular basis.
o Keep a Journal.
o Exercise! Go out and explore, get plenty of fresh air.
o Take some time to relax!
o Learn the local language.
o Keep in mind that the first year is always the hardest, and you definitely are not alone. Even if you feel like you’ll never adjust, one day in the future, you will look back and cherish that experience too.
Living abroad can be a truly amazing experience; don’t let it pass you by as the result of a self-defeating mindset. Reset your expectations and admire the experience. Be open, trusting, patient, and enjoy the unique experience. Have fun, listen, smile, embrace change and discover more about the world and yourself.
Having lived and worked in many different countries, she has learned to turn every challenge into a new opportunity.
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