Relocating abroad is an exciting opportunity and a true blessing. However, once the dust of excitement settles, and you're sitting in foreign time and space, some challenges may arise that you didn’t quite anticipate. Here are 6 things to consider once you’ve made the move;
Making friends – Depending on where you move to it can sometimes be very difficult to make new friends and find social interaction. Societal differences can be a huge challenge when trying to make new connections. You may find that it is extremely hard to conjure up a conversation or even make eye contact with a person you find interesting. Take the time to learn more about how your new culture interacts and be gentle with your approach, what might be acceptable in our culture isn't always true for others. Most importantly never take anything personally, nothing is ever directed towards you even when it is. There are so many options and resources available, worldwide, to connect you to the outside communities, for example Meetup.com is a great way to connect with your new community. It’s just about doing the research and being confident to get yourself out there!
Finding purpose – If you’re a ‘trailing spouse’ and find yourself in the land of leisure, good for you! It’s a perfect time to explore more about YOU and your new surroundings. But with having so much time on your hands it can also cause concern for your self identity and purpose. I struggled with this for a long time when I first started my expat experience just over a decade ago. I was a self employed, motivated woman when I moved overseas and then after many unfilled days/months I began to ask myself, 'who am I if I'm not doing the work I love, caring for my friends and family back home and enjoying the small freedoms I had back home?' It took me awhile to move through this process until I found my purpose by accepting the call for coaching other women expats and it's been an amazing experience since! I also began by volunteering my time, which is a great way to make new friends while giving back to the community. Take the time to think of what matters to you and what makes you happy and inspired, then take the action into making the most of your time.
Shifts in relationships – One never thinks about what might become of the relationships they leave behind when relocating. We assume that our existing relationships, whether family or friends, will never change and that we can always count on them to stay in balance. In most cases this is very true, but there is always a chance that a shift may take place and sideswipe you unexpectedly. Stay aware of your relationships back home and be mindful of the fact that they may be experiencing feelings such as; jealousy, abandonment, loneliness, loss, etc… once you are gone. This can be a very difficult challenge and it’s important to keep those connections close at heart.
Keeping the balance – Whether you have relocated for business or to support your partner’s career path, keeping an internal balance can be rather challenging after moving abroad. In the midst of experiencing new people, places and lifestyles we sometimes forget to check in with ourselves and stay centered and/or stay connected to our own values and beliefs. We get so caught up with trying to keep the balance of the external world such as work, partner’s or kids' needs and expectations, housework, shopping, social events, etc… that we lose touch with ourselves which can then turn into feelings of resentment, anger, hurt, disappointment, sadness and so on. Staying centered ‘within’ is very important (no matter where you live!) and there are so many options, free of charge, that can help you stay balanced. I use an app called 'Insight Timer' so that I can fall into stillness (wherever I am) by guided meditations, even if I have just 5 minutes. I also walk and do yoga...so grounding!
Climate changes – Extreme weather changes can hugely impact one’s mindset. Having made the move from sunny southern California to England myself, it’s not easy sitting in dark, wet and freezing cold climates for months on end with no sun in sight. It can definitely take a toll on the physical body and create a negative mindset. Doing the research and learning what the weather conditions are in your new home, all year around can be beneficial (especially if you haven't had the chance to visit and experience the seasons yourself), Learning what you can do to help keep yourself, family and home comfortable, can help you mentally prepare yourself for what’s to come.
Homesickness – Last but not least there is always the factor that you may begin to feel homesick. This is a natural occurrence especially if you have left your home, and country, for the very first time. It’s never easy leaving your home, work, family, friends, well EVERYTHING! and jet off into the exciting world as an expat. My advice would be 'never go it alone'. If you begin to feel like it's taking over you, reach out for support! Whether that's your best friend, parent, or in my case my incredible life coach! ;) You need to let yourself be vulnerable to the changes in your life and ask for the support when you need it. Embrace the opportunity that has been put in front of you, be gentle and true to yourself along the way and you will begin to have an amazing journey of a lifetime!