There are so many positive things about moving abroad, so many new things to discover, new things to learn. But there’s also another side of the story that is not always easy. To be honest, moving to a new country far away from my friends and family has been one of the hardest things I've ever done, and it definitely has so many nice and good things, but is not always pink and sweet, sometimes it’s hard.
Today I’m not going to write about the hard aspects of living abroad, instead I’m going to write about little things that have made living abroad easier, and that have helped me to adjust to life in a new country, I hope you find them helpful too.
This one may sound pretty obvious, but sometimes we can forget about it. I think it took me a while to understand that the best way to adapt to a new country is to learn and accept their way of living. I was always comparing (and sometimes I still do) my life back in the U.S. to my new life in Germany, this made it harder to adapt to my new life. It’s important to understand that when moving to a new place, things may be different, so don’t be shy and learn the local language, talk to locals, enjoy the little things like grocery shopping, etc.
Look for new activities
This is a great way of meeting new people. I remember when I just moved to Germany, I found out there was this monthly breakfast for mexican ladies. I was not super sure about going, and even though I wouldn’t say it was the best reunion ever, at this event I met this girl who now became one of my closest friends in Germany, we had so many things in common that the connection was really fast.
Make new friends
I know it’s tempting to be in front of the computer or your phone looking at Facebook and Instagram, catching up with you friends back home, and I don’t think this is bad it all, but this may not be the best choice when you are far away from them and you are a newly expat. Go out! explore, meet new people, make some friends, this doesn’t mean you are letting go of your friends back home, but it's also very important to have some new friends who you can connect to when it comes to sharing experiences of your daily-new-life, also when you are living abroad (specially the first couple of weeks) you may be a bit extra emotional, so looking at your friend's birthday party from last friday (that you missed) is not the smartest idea.
Find your “safe” place
Weeks after I moved to Germany, I found this Barre/pilates studio that I love! (I will write a post about this later) They offer classes in english, and the instructor happens to be from the same city I am. I love going there because it makes me feel very comfortable and I don’t feel like a foreigner for a bit. Whenever I’m in my class I feel like I’m back in San Diego for a bit. Sometimes you just need to have a bit of “normal” in your life, and that's okay.
Expat life can be a bit exhausting when it comes to adjusting to new things, and it’s okay to feel a bit “homesick” sometimes. So, whether is a coffee shop, a church, gym, park, anything that makes you feel safe and comfortable for a bit it’s always good.
Don’t take things too seriously and be patient.
Adjusting to a new place takes time, it’s okay, be patient. Don’t be so hard on yourself and enjoy the process. Being an expat may not always be easy, something it’s a language barrier or a cultural difference, just take things with calm and remind yourself that you are learning and be open to make mistakes or sometimes even make a fool of yourself.
I remember my first couple of days in germany instead of bringing home turkey breast for my favorite sandwich, I was buying pork ham (I don't eat pork) because I didn't know the right word for turkey. Now I laugh about it, but the first couple of days I was getting so desperate that I remember crying at home because I was not able to do simple things like grocery shopping on my own. It's important to understand that it's okay, we have to be patient!!
Dont’ compare your past life with this new stage in your life. Be open to learn, be open to meeting new people and learning new things.
Enjoy! it’s all worth it, and it will get better with time, I promise.
Are you living away from home? Share your experience below