Just over 2 months ago, my husband and I picked up and moved from the USA to Salzburg, Austria. We left in search of adventure, growth and a whole new perspective on what this amazing world has to offer.
Throughout our MONTHS and MONTHS of preparations, we did anything and everything we could think of to prepare for this experience. But what you can’t really prepare for is the emotional part of this life changing journey. We could talk all we wanted about how amazing it would be, how much we were going to see and how we were going to feel, but when it comes down to it, you can never prepare yourself for the emotions that follow a move abroad.
It begins in that moment when your bags are unpacked, you have a new apartment that you’re now settled into. It suddenly hits you. You’re not here for a week’s vacation or even a month of travel. This is your home now. You are officially an expat.
This moment and the moments that follow come with a major rollercoaster. Some days are THE BEST DAYS EVER, others you feel confused and a bit lonely. The extremes are common and totally unpredictable. Your mood can change in an instant, so it can be very confusing.
But when it comes down to it, what you get out of the experience of living in a new country outweighs any of the negative emotions. It may not seem like it at the time, but you’ll realize it one day. All of a sudden, a light bulb will turn on in your head and you’ll be a completely new person.
So how do you deal with all the chaos that goes on in your mind? When all of your emotions mix together and you feel lost in your own head? To help you identity how you are feeling, and to show that you’re not crazy, these are just a few of the MANY emotions that you’ll experience as an expat.
The Many Emotions of an Expat
Way too excited!
- “WOW! I love it here. So much to see. So much to do! MUST travel and explore everything!”
- “But I miss my friends…I miss my family…I miss my old life. Everyone back home is moving on without me…”
In complete shock.
- “I can’t believe I actually moved to another country. I’m not leaving in 2 weeks? This is my home now?”
- I’ve done all this preparation, now how do I live here? I thought this would be the easiest part.. What’s next?”
Pat on the back!
- “I can’t believe I followed through and moved abroad. I did it! Most people wouldn’t dare to take this leap and I did. I can do anything!!”
Out of place.
- “How do I meet friends? How does my full personality shine through when I don’t feel like myself sometimes?”
- “I can’t wait to keep trying new things. New foods, new sites, bring it on! Should we go on a hike today? Plan a weekend getaway?”
- “It’s hard to adapt to a new culture (and language!). Even the simplest tasks take 1000 times longer…”
Embracing new cultures.
- “This is incredible! To learn and understand a new culture is the best experience EVER!”
Yearning for what you know…
- “Why can’t everyone here just do things like they do back home? Why can’t the food be familiar?”
Optimistic for what’s ahead.
- “Things seem to get better every day. I can’t imagine all the personal growth and excitement to come!”
How to Cope with the Emotional Drops
Stop. Just stop.
- Get out of your head and take a step back. Sometimes when you think too much and analyze what you’re thinking too literally, nothing good comes of it. You won’t be able to make sense of how you feel, so why try? Walk outside and take a look around. Get off Facebook and Instagram. Refocus on the present and where you physically are. A book that really helped me accomplish this task is The Power of Now. If you don’t have time to sit down and read, download the book on Audible (Click HERE for Free Trial), and listen while you cook dinner or commute to work!
Don’t take life so seriously.
- Are you alive? … Yes. Is there any immediate danger? … No. Then who cares?! You can’t take life too seriously or you will never enjoy a second of it. The same goes with moving to another country. Think of the big picture. If you keep analyzing your emotions, how can you embrace your new home and start to adapt? How can you grow and learn from your new surroundings?
You chose this.
- Don’t forget that! You decided to leave home for a reason. Whether it was for a career opportunity, personal growth or simply to explore somewhere new again. There was a reason you made such a drastic move, so try not to lose sight of that! The grass is always greener on the other side. And now that you’ve made that giant leap to the other side, stop looking back and enjoy.
If you have the ability to change your life, you have the ability to change your mood.
- All you have to do is choose to change it. Simple as that! If you want to be happy where you are, commit to being happy where you are. Don’t forget about all the courage and confidence it took for you to move to another country. Now use that same courage and confidence to change your mood!
No matter how alone you think you are in this rollercoaster, think again. It is 100% natural to be happy one minute and then sad the next. Just stay strong. All of a sudden, one day, everything will change…
Your rollercoaster’s drop will become more exciting than frightening and you’ll run to the front of the line to do it all over again. And at that moment, you will realize just how much this ride has changed you.