If your job or your studies take you overseas, there can be a lot to adjust to – the challenges of a new city, potential cultural differences, making new friends, not to mention the new role itself.
Some core things you will need to get the most out of it are:
Embrace the differences of your new environment, explore as much as possible to see what this new place has to offer, and try to resist constantly comparing your new life to your old life. It’s a great opportunity to go places or try things that you wouldn’t have done at home, so embrace different!
Find the positive
If you notice yourself frequently coming up with things you miss or making unfavourable comparisons to home, deliberately try to refocus your mind on things you do like about your new environment. Focus on what you are gaining, not what you are missing.
It’s OK to feel homesick
We all adjust to new circumstances at different rates. Many expats talk about ups and downs as they adjust to their new home, and the difficulty they have after the initial excitement wears off. For some people this happens in the first weeks or months, for others after they’ve been away for a year or two. Recognise these feelings, talk about them with others, and remind yourself that you certainly aren’t alone in feeling this way, and the feeling won’t last forever.
Laugh with yourself
It’s common in a new environment to make a few faux pas while you work out how things work. When this happens, you’ve essentially got two options – you can give yourself a hard time for stuffing up, or you can accept that you are human and laugh with yourself about your mistakes. I doubt that I need to tell you which is better for your wellbeing.
Use your newness to make conversation
People are often very proud of their country or city when talking to foreigners. Ask questions about what they like about living there, or how it is different to other places they have visited. These topics will help you to develop a greater rapport with people, and a greater depth of knowledge about your new home.
It can take a while to develop new friendships and support networks, so put some effort in to maintaining your relationships from back home. It’s important to feel that you have support and are connected, even if they’re far away.
We live in a world where typically we hear about all the good stuff – people post messages and photos of positive experiences – and we tend to share the negatives less often. This difference can make us feel like we are the only one’s having a hard time, especially when abroad. Moving overseas is very different to going overseas on a holiday, and you’ll experience many things no one shares on Instagram. Expect it to be difficult some of the time, and also know that these challenges will teach you a lot about yourself. Research suggests that those who have spent time living abroad are more confident and clearer about their own identity (Adam et al., 2018).
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Reference: Adam, H., Obodaru, O., Lu, J.G., Maddux, W. W., & Galinsky, A. D. (2018). The shortest path to oneself leads around the world: Living abroad increases self-concept clarity. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 145 (16). DOI: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2018.01.002