You’re living far from home and sometimes you get homesick and experience a deep longing for familiar things.
But, you may be asking, what is an expat? Do you fit the audience we’re about to help with coping tips? In essence, an expat is someone who lives outside their country of origin. He or she is much more than just a tourist. If this is you, you have made your home elsewhere in the world, and you’ve essentially become a “local.” Nevertheless, your cultural roots are elsewhere.
If you’ve chosen Indonesia, there’s a good chance you’re loving it. Friendly people, beautiful countryside, and delicious food combined with an attractive business environment – but just sometimes, the longing for home seems overwhelming. Use these coping tips to make your life as an expat easier, happier, and more homelike.
1. Don’t Lose Touch With the Folks Back Home
In the excitement of establishing yourself in a new country, it’s all-too-easy to lose touch with friends and even some family members. You may even have decided that your move will be a permanent one, so with farewells said, you’ve headed off to start a new and altogether different life to the one you had before.
But the people who were important to you in your home country are folks whom you’ll miss most during those moments of homesickness. Don’t lose touch! A simple video call has a sense of immediacy that’s almost as good as seeing your favorite people in person.
In the early hustle and bustle of your move when you just don’t have time for much else, consider sending out newsletters with a personalized intro and outro. Your news only has to be written once for everyone, and you can save your mails from becoming impersonal or “bloggy” by composing just one or two special paragraphs that show you’re writing to people as individuals.
2. Get Involved in Expat Communities
If you’re headed for a country where business is good, you can be sure there’ll be an expat community to welcome you. Much as you’d like to embrace your new home and its culture, your expat friends provide a support system and an opportunity to indulge in familiar activities.
Missing Thanksgiving dinners and familiar Christmas traditions? Your expat community will be organizing events during these festive times because they feel the same way! It’s also a good way to expose your kids to the culture you were raised in and gain a better understanding of their heritage. As for bigger kids, they’ll be missing their friends back home too, and expat friends can help to take the edge off their feelings of having been uprooted.
As a newbie, your expat community will help you to get orientated to your new home. They’ll know the answers to questions such as how to deal with local government, which public transport networks to use and how to use them, or even simple things like where to get the ingredients for your favorite homestyle dishes.
While you might initially feel that being active in your expat community seems terribly insular, it’s anything but that. Remember, these people went through the same learning-curve you’re experiencing, and they’re ready to make your transition easier as a result. Counter-intuitive as it may seem, staying in contact with other expats will help you to settle down and make yourself at home much faster.
3. Understand Expat Depression and be Ready to Counter it
No matter how excited you may have been at the prospect of living and working abroad, an extended stay can leave you with a well-recognized, stress-related condition known as “expat depression.” It certainly does involve homesickness, but it’s more than that, and it may even involve feelings of hostility towards your new country and its culture.
Knowing that there’s a good chance of suffering from expat depression is half the battle. Living in a place that’s completely unfamiliar to you in ways that range from social manners to food, to work habits is bound to leave you feeling stressed out at some point.
Countering expat depression means using every means at your disposal to be prepared for it and to combat it. A positive mindset in which you accept that “different” can also be “good” is just the beginning. Maintain healthy habits and cultivate stress-relieving habits like getting enough sleep, sufficient exercise, and a bit of “you” time to relax and reflect. Contact with other expats and friends back home will help you a lot too. With culture shock leaving you feeling out of place and down in the dumps, a few familiar faces and accents will do you the world of good.
Sure, living in Indonesia is heavenly in many ways, but if you weren’t born here, it’s understandable that you’ll need time to adjust. Once you’re settled, you’re going to love it!