I’ve been debating how I should write this post, because I do believe it’s important to talk about, but I never want to appear as though I’m bashing a country/city/culture simply because it wasn’t my cup of tea. I imagine if I read a post that was speaking negatively of my home city, I would feel defensive!
So, I’m not going to share about the place itself, or about the “why” I didn’t fall in love with this particular location that I lived in for nearly a year, but rather what to do if it happens to you, and the questions to consider before making a big move.
Why I Moved
Without getting too much into it, myself and my boyfriend (now husband) had a unmissable opportunity with the missionary organization we’ve both been associated with. After much thought and prayer, we knew it was where we needed to be for the next season of life, and headed on over, agreeing to stay for around two years.
| brisbane, australia | two years ago, i was on the plane heading to australia for the very first time to take a 3 month film course. little did i know all that was waiting for me on the other side, and how God would use that chapter to remind me of my passion for writing. just last week i was on the same flight, reminiscing on how exciting it was landing and seeing australia out of my window for the first time. this time it felt familiar, like coming home ❤️ • • • #mirandasmuses #writerscommunity #travelblog #writersofinstagram #thehappynow #abmtravelbug #wandeleurspark #travel #brisbane #australia #windowseat
Typically whenever you move somewhere new, there will always be an adjustment period, and usually it’s quite uncomfortable! After the exciting honeymoon phase dies down, it’s easy to be filled with loneliness, and longing for the familiarities of home. If this is where you’re at, tough it out, as it typically gets easier over time once you start to feel at home. I shared a bit about this early phase in my post : The Truth About Moving Overseas.
Oddly enough in my situation, I never really experienced much of a honeymoon phase. I tried desperately to look for the good, and trust me there was plenty, but all in all I felt stranded. I’m sure there’s a handful of other things I could have done in the initial stages that would’ve changed my attitude, but I felt pretty rotten. Here’s what I wish I had done, and what I now do before committing to a big move.
It’s so easy to romanticize the thought of other far away places, but then almost every time our daydreams don’t match reality. Be prepared for the fact that there’s going to be things that are frustrating and that you may not like. Think about your personality, are there certain things that are location deal breakers for you?
For instance, if you’re like me and struggle with learning languages, moving somewhere with a language you’re totally unfamiliar with is going to be a big hurdle for you. It’s not something that should stop you, but something you should keep in mind and prepare for. So, look at your personality versus the place that you’re going to.
Read as much as you can about the culture of where you’re going, and be prepared to adapt to it. Don’t move somewhere and be stubborn about maintaining your ways, it just doesn’t work and will only make you feel more like an outsider. I wish I was prepared for the differences, and that I had entered with the mindset of adaptability, not confusion and anxiety on how things were done.
Give it Time
As I mentioned, after the excitement dies down, chances are you’ll be feeling over it. Over the differences that were once interesting, over the foreign language that you once found beautiful, over being adaptable to a culture you don’t understand at times. It’s totally normal, and no, you’re not a horrible person!
Definitely allow yourself time to get over this phase, don’t run out the door just because things aren’t going great, but also be introspective about how you may be feeling.
Are you often upset because you haven’t found local friends yet? That sort of thing takes time, as sucky as it can be. But other things aren’t as simple as waiting them out, sometimes there are factors out of your control.
For example, in my situation, I’m not sure how much of my struggles were based on my location versus the work I was doing. If it was location focused, I think I could have stuck it out and adjusted, however in my case I think the bottom line was I was not enjoying the work I was doing, and I couldn’t stay in the area if I quit since my housing was linked to my work. So, I ended up leaving entirely, which in my case was a good decision.
That being said, I still was not in love with the place, so I don’t see myself eager to return – and that’s ok! There’s some sweet memories I made, great little spots that are warm to my heart, and people who enriched my life during that season.
Check out my post on How To Make Anywhere Feel Like Home, this will definetely come in handy if you’re struggling to feel at home after the honeymoon phase has passed.
Be Grateful for the Experience
I know this one’s a little corny, but it’s true nonetheless. Every travel experience I’ve had, positive or negative has taught me something so important, and has caused me to grow and learn in ways I wouldn’t have otherwise.
So, even if it wasn’t the grand experience you had imagined your big move away to be, be thankful it happened and take the time to reflect on how you grew during your time there. Think of the people you met, the challenges you overcame, and ultimately pat yourself on the back because moving away is a huge leap of faith!
I hope this post encouraged those of you who are experiencing the difficulties that expat life brings, especially early on. I also hope that this helped anyone who’s thinking about taking the plunge and moving somewhere new to consider my points and reflect on what you’re actually signing on for.
I would love to hear some stories from you all in the comments below! Have you ever lived somewhere you really weren’t a fan of? How did you overcome it?