Combating Expat Loneliness 

Starting your life over in a foreign country isn’t easy, and neither is re booting your social life. Sometimes it feels like everyone back home is moving on without you, while you are off in a parallel universe, making different choices and living a completely different life. The time difference doesn’t make it any easier to communicate either. On top of that, sometimes it’s hard to feel like an outsider in your new home on a regular basis.  As soon as I open my mouth, people know I’m not from here, and sometimes feeling like I’m  alone (ish) in a strange place makes me lonely and nostalgic as well. Instead of shutting myself inside, eating mcdonalds and watching Friends all night (yes, it is always always on) making an effort to keep in touch with family and old friends as well as making new friends is much more beneficial.

Make time to skype and email. Yes, it can be inconvenient, and yes it can require planning but staying in touch is worth it. The things you would text to your friends can easily be sent via fb messenger or g chat. You don’t have to go totally off the grid. 

Find people who share common interests. I have found an awesome running group here in the UK and signed up for German lessons. Through these I’ve met new friends and filled out my calendar a bit. Whether it’s volunteering, adult Ed or play groups these are great places to connect. 

Say yes to invitations. So your first choice of activities wouldn’t have been sushi/coffee/ the mall. Say yes anyway because this is how you make friends, meet new people and find new places to go. Plus, you may have a great time and discover a new interest. It could be awkward for the first 20 minutes you’re at a party and don’t know anyone, but it gets better (or you can leave. )

Plan visits home. Not an option for everyone, but I am going home for 3 weddings this year. I knew I’d regret not going and it’s a way to ensure a lot of people I want to see are in the same place. I extended the trips to make sure I’d have time for family and friends who wouldn’t be at the weddings as well. 

Invite friends and family to visit you! “I know transatlantic flights are expensive, but you’ll have a free place to stay!” That’s generally my first argument. It gives your friends and family a home base, a chance to visit with you and a trip somewhere they may not have gone otherwise. I’d say that’s a win for everyone. 

How have you kept in touch or met new friends after moving away?

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19 Comments Add yours

  1. hmsies says:

    Ahh couldn’t have said it better than myself! Also, got hit by Expat Loneliness here in France and each time I talk to my friends online it really does seem as though my life is at a standstill and they are all doing something and moving forward.
    So it’s a fine balance by staying in touch with old friends but also finding new ones and generally experiencing something new. Hopefully by joining a few activities like you have will be a good way forward 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is a tricky balance, but definitely worth the trouble. And you’re moving too, just in a different direction 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. saoirsefaith says:

    As much as I value the content of this article (being an immigrant myself), I must admit that I am taken aback by titular “expat” description. It’s a rather antiquated term with several negative connotations, and I am just wondering why you would choose to use expat rather than immigrant? And yes, I am genuinely curious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An expatriate is defined as a person living outside their native country. An immigrant is someone permanently relocating to another country. (Source Oxford dictionary)

      Since I am here for a few years and not permanently I am by definition an expatriate not an immigrant, and therefore titled the article to match my situation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The same definition that I have been working under as an expat in Denmark.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Keeping in touch is difficult, but you have to make time for your friends that stayed at home, but the most difficult part is.. .they have to make time for you as well. I’m fearing that. But I will try to follow your advice, and say yes to everything ! Subscribe to a class and try to do some activities in a club 🙂

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    1. That is true, but I’ve found that my closest friends are willing to make the effort. Good luck meeting people, I’m sure you will! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great tips! I know the feeling when living abroad, and have lost a lot of friends the last years due to that it is so difficult to keep in touch. Mostly because they move on with their lives, with work, children, husband and house. But then I got many new friends on my travels. But with family I always make time for and they for me as well. We skype very often. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! It’s hard to stay in touch but Skype definitely makes it easier/better to keep in contact and “see” people back home. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely think saying yes to all invites really works. I’ve lived in a few different countries (although been in one place for a long time now) but that always seemed to open up a great circle of friends and new people for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad to hear that’s worked for you! It’s hard and can be awkward at first but it’s worth it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. tinyexpats says:

    Great list! I always use Skype, viber, etc.. chatting to my friends and family everyday, as if they’re in the same city – benefits of technology, right? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! It must have been so much harder before this technology. I can’t imagine only using the (very expensive) phone or written letters!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Flav_Holman says:

    yes, nice post, I agree with it. It’s very nice when we start making friends, but sometimes, you just miss home and that’s that… I went from writing letters to posting photos on instagram 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s definitely true, there’s no place like home. Instagram is so easy, it’s great and so is Facebook! I still try to make sure I at least send birthday cards to my family through the post though!

      Like

  8. estelea says:

    Your post says it all PERFECTLY! thanks Amanda! this feeling of loneliness can be terrible, and your tips are well proved great ways to get better. The problem is when like me, you debrief about a place you re fed up with, explains all the bad points, and .. expect your friends and fam to visit 😉
    More seriously, keeping in touch as you said is the best thing. And yoga, learning to breath correctly can be a great way to diminish stress. Simple but so efficient.
    And staying busy, accepting the invites even if you are not in the mood, it can always lead to something great, who knows? ..
    Again dear, great post, thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Good idea about the yoga too, it’s too easy to get stressed with all the changes. Staying busy is so important too. 🙂

      Like

  9. I completely agree to the say yes to all invitations – great way to connect and network and learn about new opportunities that may even be more up your alley!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely, even if it seems a little intimidating at first, it does get easier.

      Like

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