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  5 Smart Tips for Handling Isolation and Loneliness as an Expat

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There are no two ways about it: life as an expat can most certainly be a lonely one.

This is especially true for those who left their homelands out of sheer financial necessity. Leaving your family behind can be a crushing blow emotionally, not to mention the challenges of staying afloat in a foreign country where customs feel upside down.

And even those voluntarily looking for greener pastures can find themselves feeling lost in an entirely new land. Many expats naturally second-guess their decision to uproot, which is an unfortunate reality once you’ve gone through the cost and paperwork of starting anew.

Don’t lose hope, though. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Understanding how to control your emotions and spend your free time are both essential to finding contentment as an expat. While you may not consider your situation to be completely ideal, these tips can help you stay on the bright side when the going gets tough.

Look at the Big Picture

This tip may seem like an obvious one, but never lose sight of the big picture when it comes to why you decided to emigrate in the first place.

From keeping your family afloat to offering them a better life, your support and sacrifice never go unnoticed. After all, your situation may very well be temporary depending on where you’re sending money and how much you’re able to earn.

Similarly, make it a point to squeeze as most as you possibly can out of each and every paycheck you send back to your family. From avoiding transaction feeds on remittance payments to creating your own nest egg, every penny counts. Again, it’s all about the big picture.

Try Your Best to Assimilate

Certainly easier said than done, maintaining a positive attitude about your new culture will take you much further than being bitter or resistance. While you shouldn’t forget where you’ve come from, strive to be open-minded about where you now call home and how you can treat it as such.

Stay in Touch

In order to keep your eyes on the proverbial prize and avoid loneliness, make it a point to stay in touch with your family as much as you possibly can. Think about simple ways you can touch base with your family on a day-to-day basis via the web such as…

  • Frequent updates on social media, including messenger apps (think: WhatsApp or Facebook)
  • Apps such as FaceTime or Skype which allow for video calls so you can actually see each other
  • Regular email chains back and forth for more detailed, formal communication

Say “Yes” to New Friendships

Don’t neglect the power of “yes” if you’re looking to feel more at home in a new country.

Coworkers looking to hang out? Other expats interested in starting a club or group? Making friends or at least having someone to talk to can be a total game-changer if you feel like you’re totally alone.

Don’t Hide Your Feelings

On a related note, feelings of isolation are completely normal and aren’t something you just simply tuck away. Whether it’s fellow expats or friends back home, talking out your problems concerning culture or assimilation is always the way to go versus trying to bottle them up.

Remember: there’s a reason why you became an expat in the first place. These problems are common to expats of all walks of life, which is why beating them is essential to your long-term happiness. Once you adopt the mindset outlined by these tips, you put yourself on the path toward feeling better.


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