Thursday 18th October 2012

The downsides of living abroad

Sometimes living overseas can be challenging. Here are four of the biggest downsides of life overseas and how you can counteract them.


It’s all foreign

Even if you make a concerted effort to learn the language of your host country and understand the culture, once you actually relocate you may find that you still struggle to understand what is being said and what is going on around you. Sometimes you may feel that you will never be understood, or understand, and it can all be a bit overwhelming.

Counteract it: Accept it as an interesting challenge. Make a concerted effort to learn the voacbualry, pronunication and slang and study as much as possible. If you don’t understand something, ask. Try and make friends with the locals as they will be able to guide you through the confusing times and, in return, you can teach them about your language and culture.


You feel like an outsider

You feel like an outsider because you are an outsider. While you may become familiar around town and things will stop seeming strange, you will always be a foreign person in a foreign land and the locals will always, in some way, shape or form, view you as different.

Counteract it: Don’t let it get you down and don’t treat your background as a limiting factor. Embrace your differences and see them as the positives that they are. Yes, you may not completely fit in, but you are being presented with a great opportunity to experience life from a completely different perspective. It doesn’t matter where you were born and what language you speak, fitting in is a state of mind and those that view their lives positively will have a much higher chance of embracing their differences and enjoying their new home for what it is.


You’re away from home

While this may be a positive for some, it will probably be a negative for most. Many expatriates suffer from home sickness and miss their friends and family terribly. You may feel that this is a big gap in your life and wish that those closet to you were here to share your adventures with you. There will also be times when you feel like you are missing out on the things that are going on back home.

Counteract it: Make sure that you maintain regular contact with the people that mean the most to you. Set aside regular time slots when you can video call and enjoy a long chat about the events of each other’s lives. Make regular trips back home and encourage your friends and family to visit you; that way they can experience first hand what your new life looks like.


Lack of certainty about the future

One of the biggest problems that most expats I know face is the fact that are unsure as to where they will live in the future. Expat life is regularly perceived as a temporary thing and as months turn into years many people start to contemplate what they should do in the future. Should you go home? Raise children abroad? Move to yet another country? People who stay in their home country don’t tend to experience this problem, they make a home for themselves and tend to stay in one place. However, those living abroad are continually being asked “how long do you intend to stay?” and the answer to this question doesn’t always come readily.

Counteract it: It is always great to have a long-term plan, but if you are unsure as to what you want to do in the future and where you want to go, don’t worry. As long as you are financially secure and plan for your retirement years and beyond it really doesn’t matter. When people ask me how long I intend to stay in my host country, I always reply: “As long as I am happy.”


Are you living overseas? What’s the biggest downside you have experienced and how have you tried to overcome it? Please leave a comment and let us know.

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