As expats we can very quickly feel lonely and disconnected from everyone and everything.
This is purely because everything is new, and we need to start from scratch.
This blog post is inspired by an article written by psychology today titled why you should talk to strangers Why You Should Talk to Strangers | Psychology Today
In my first years as an expat, I experienced such loneliness as never before.
Admittedly it was the early 2000’s,
a time when technology had not yet provided an affordable way to stay connected with family and friends.
I am talking about face-to-face connections, not one via technology.
Technology, as wonderful as it is, tends to leave us feeling more disconnected than connected.
So, what happened to me?
What happened to me was no surprise. I became very depressed.
I craved a connection with anyone, anyone at all.
I did not have full command of the language so making friends was tricky.
I was also very shy and unsure of myself.
What was I to do?
What does happen to you is you realise that you cannot continue on the way you have been going.
I needed to step out of my comfort zone and of myself in order to make friends.
One of my best friends just happens to be another Australian, who I met because I was standing behind her at the cash register and heard her speaking English.
I plucked up the courage to say, “sorry for listening in, but when you hear someone speaking your native language, in your native accent, your ears prick up, and I just wanted to say hello.”
To my complete surprise, she felt the same.
As expats you are naturally looking for a connection to home, and I have yet to come across one who is not open to making friends or seeking a connection with another expat.
What has been the result?
The result of connecting with others is the reason I was able to be here in the Netherlands for so long.
They are the ones who listen, they put things into perspective, they comfort me when I am feeling down and are my support in hard times.
It is the one bit of advice I gave my daughter when she left for Australia, just over 2 years ago.
“Find good friends, because they are the ones who will help you though the homesickness and hard times.”
And I am glad to say that they have.
It’s the connections you make that will determine your success as an Expat.
Purely because it’s those connections that will help and guide you through your journey as an expat.
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