Being an expatriate is no joke.
It affects around 50 million of the current worldwide population. And no, it’s not a disease either, but over the web, one runs into many articles classifying subspecies of expats – i.e. traveling spouse, life-destination-, individuating sometimes up to 10 types.
Here, I will keep things simple and recognize it all comes down to Two Types: The Over-Enthusiast and The Slow-but-Steady expats.
— The Over-Enthusiasts savour all novelties with almost naive flair: they find career satisfactions, friends, and most importantly a meaning in being miles away from home. Some of them might start off strong, and get bored of the city in a few months. Some of them might not: very, very lucky people.
— The Slow-But-Steady, instead, have a hard time adapting to the new environment – some even mention a year of grey area- and risk to finally enjoy it only when it’s too late. Naturally, they look at the Over-Enthusiasts with hopeless wonder, and a hint of jealousy.
So what gives? Feeling at home in a stranger place is nothing but a Learning Curve, we all know that.
Here are some tips on how to ride it successfully and learn quickly:
Find a new routine
I know, I know. Routine is a bad word, synonym for boredom, conformism…also, new routine? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
Yet, when you feel eradicated, it is important to form one as a reassuring, comfortable base. Besides, healthy habits like exercising and rising early will be easier to pick in a new environment. Keep a journal to mark a daily victory, which could really be anything: meeting someone new, drinking two liters of water before noon or reading a chapter of a book. You will have then time to spice up your life, which brings us to our second point…
You might have heard, it’s not about the place, it’s about the people. So when you move abroad, socializing is not part of your leisure time.
It’s a second job.
You have to force yourself to go out with a bunch of strangers, until you find friends. The objective here is to get to know as many people as possible: if you are single, do not get into a relationship too fast. You have to do this on your own. It doesn’t matter if you will have to try different groups you don’t like -i.e. The Only Brunchers, Only-Couples, One-Nationality-Only-, at least you will know where you DON’T belong.
Find an out-of-work passion
Most of us work nine-to-six office job, and out of these hours it’s risky not to do anything but sleeping and partying. Some people re-locate to a new place to follow their spouses, so they don’t have a job. But this is a rule of thumb, worth for everyone: finding an intellectual or physical challenge will chase boredom away, keep you sharp and also helping you meeting new people easily – point two.
Limit the contacts with Home
Yesterday, I had this talk with my colleagues who are quite new to the city, and were wondering whether having a Skype everyday with home was the right thing to do.
It is not. Not everyday. Of course, it is important to keep your ties, but the key is to do it when you need it the less. The more you call your friends and family at the beginning, the less you will get used to live without them and in such a way, you will be stuck in a beautiful past without enjoying your present.
At the end of the day, making the most of your present is the secret of enjoying life in general, not only learning how to live far away.
For the latter, it is a mixture of adaptation and creation: letting yourself be changed and adapt, while at the same time making your own values and passions shape your reality.
So that, perhaps, it will be really possible to feel home anywhere in the World.