Looking for adventure! More and more people are opting for a new start abroad. Preferably in a place where the sun shines a lot more often, the beach is around the corner and palm trees grow in the garden. That sounds wonderful and it is, but it doesn’t always work out right away. In the first few years, a large number of expats suffer from the so-called expat blues.
What are the expat blues?
The fact that life in your new location is by no means always fun has to do with various stress factors.
Everything is new
You have a new home, in a new city, in a new country. Perhaps when you arrive you immediately have a new job, with new colleagues. You also have to arrange a lot of things right away: a rental contract, a permit, registering with the municipality, proof of identity, insurance, you name it. And you might even have to buy a new car.
Putting down roots
Once the “newness” has worn off a bit, you have to work hard to “get rooted”: make new friends, get to know the culture, and learn a foreign language. A poor command of the language can be frustrating when you want to get things done at government agencies. It can also make it difficult to make local friends. You might find more of a connection with other expats, but often they leave as well. Continuous networking in a different culture with different customs is exhausting.
Missing family and friends
And does it sometimes get a bit too much for you? Then you miss the social safety net you used to have: your family and friends. This can cause a feeling of loneliness and isolation. On top of that, your social contacts at home are not always understanding. They expect you to have a great time in that beautiful, faraway country.
That can make you feel like it’s your own fault for being so miserable. After all, you live in paradise on earth, in that city you love so much, or in that cottage near the beach. Or maybe you went abroad for the job of your dreams. So why aren’t you happy?
It’s sometimes hard to admit, but the destination can simply be disappointing too. Going somewhere on vacation is really different from living somewhere permanently. You may not feel welcome in the neighborhood, you may have trouble finding work or get paid little, the facilities may be disappointing, etc. And, at some point, you even get used to the glorious weather day in and day out. In fact, in the summer it is actually just way too hot.
Loss of identity
If you have left everything behind and are starting all over again abroad, you may also experience an unexpected loss of identity. Who are you without your familiar job, semi-detached house, nice car, friends, hobbies, and favorite activities? It is then necessary to reinvent yourself and that comes with a lot of uncertainty.
Consequences of the expat blues
All of these stressors can soon produce burnout symptoms. You are tired a lot, sad or irritable, you have headaches or are easily sick, or you feel empty and gloomy. This can even develop into an anxiety disorder or depression. Did you move with your partner because of his or her job? Then it is possible that you are struggling with ‘bore-out’: the feeling of not mattering because you cannot find work or are performing below your level. This in turn causes tension in the relationship.
Online expat therapist
The good news is that all of these symptoms are perfectly normal. You have turned your whole life upside down! It’s not surprising that you don’t feel like yourself for a while. Online therapy can support you in this process. The Online Therapists is specialized in expat problems because many of our therapists live abroad themselves. You can therefore come to us for therapy in different languages, in your time zone, and from your home wherever that is.
Benefits of the expat blues
You may not see it that way yourself yet, but the expat blues also have advantages. You really get to know yourself at this stage in your life and can completely reinvent yourself. It’s scary, but it also offers the opportunity for tremendous personal growth and self-development. What kind of person have you always wanted to be and what kind of life does that person have? An online therapist helps you to answer these questions in an accessible way, so you can start taking steps in the right direction.
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