Posted by Louisa Heath on November 20th, 2015.
During the planning stages of a move overseas the excitement, stress and sheer amount of things you have to organise can distract you from the fact that you’re leaving your home behind.
Once the initial honeymoon period wears off many expats can find themselves re-evaluating their decision to move abroad. The inevitable bout of homesick blues kicks in and it becomes clear that your move isn’t just an extended holiday, with the mundanities of everyday life starting to sour the enjoyment of your new home country. It’s a perfectly natural response to wonder if the grass might not always be greener, but rest assured that those who can brave the challenges and make it through their first twelve months living abroad are far more likely to stick it out indefinitely.
With that in mind, here’s our four top tips for making sure that your first year of residence in your new country isn’t the last:
People are what make a place a home and missing loved ones is often the greatest source of homesickness for the new expat. The more new friends and connections you make, the less time you’ll have to focus on how much you miss the ones you’ve left behind. It can be difficult but it’s important to put yourself out there, as soon as you’ve started to settle make an effort to seek out opportunities to socialise and set down fresh roots. A great place to start can be an expat club, many of which you can find online before you make the move. And remember, for those moments when you do start to feel lonely, Skype is a fantastic way to keep in touch with the friends and family still at home.
Get Involved with the Local Culture
Half of the fun of living somewhere new is in the exploration, don’t be afraid to jump right in and get a proper taste of the place you’ve come to live in. Every country has its own unique character so don’t miss out on the truly special things that make your new home the place it is. Being a resident is very different from being a tourist, but don’t let anything stop you from trying new things out at least once. As they say, when in Rome.
But Still Make Time for Your Own Culture
It can seem like moving to a new country means you have to commit to completely assimilating to it, but don’t make this mistake. While you do need to at least embrace some of the aspects of your new home it’s just as important to hold on to the memories and traditions of your place of origin. Overcoming any homesickness can be a lot easier if you don’t try to cut yourself off from it entirely, maintain some of your old rituals as best you can and maybe see if you can find a proper English pub for the odd pint.
Don’t expect the earth straight away; it doesn’t matter how much homework and planning you’ve done, adjusting to your new home is going to take some time. Things won’t always go smoothly and it might even end up seeming like everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. Maybe it’ll turn out that your plates got broken in transit, the new boiler may break down after a month, or it may be that your new commute to work takes twice as long as you expected. Small things can seem like a perfectly valid reason to jump ship if you’re already feeling uncertain but when you’re frustrated just remember that life’s annoyances are just as likely to happen in one country as another. It’s important to remind yourself that living abroad isn’t always going to be an idealised permanent holiday.
Life will always happen, wherever you are, but through the tough times focus on what prompted your move in the first place. Living overseas can be a massively exciting and rewarding adventure so stick it out and give yourself time to adjust.
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