New sights, new romance, new opportunities - we’re all aware of the excitements that come with moving abroad. However, hidden behind the glitz and the glamour, lies a few unexpected side effects that new expats may need to consider. It’s important to be prepared in every sense when moving abroad, that’s why we compiled this list of side effects that new expats are likely to experience.
The Homesickness Guilt
Homesickness is to be expected when relocating, but what a lot of expats may not realise is that this homesickness can often translate into feelings of immense guilt. Moving abroad is a fresh start, a new you - but what about those you leave behind? It can often seem like you are gaining the experience of a lifetime, while your loved ones are losing a family member or close friend.
You may start to think that missing events and occasions hurts your family and friends more than it does you, you aren’t there to support their triumphs or comfort their losses. This makes feelings of homesickness quickly transform into guilt, something which new expats may not be expecting.
However, remind yourself why you moved, why you made these sacrifices and remember how well technology keeps us in touch. Use technology to your advantage and make an effort to speak to loved ones regularly to ease your homesickness guilt.
Other Expats are Instant Friends
The ‘New Kid’ syndrome is real. You don’t yet understand the local slang, jokes, and culture. You feel like an outsider, who can’t seem to enter the local’s ‘bubble’. Interacting with the locals is rewarding, yet sometimes, alien.
Then you stumble upon another expat, and suddenly, it feels like someone else is facing all the same experiences, as you: an instant best friend. Turns out, you weren’t crazy at all - they don’t understand the local’s jokes either, they also think the transport is confusing and they think the beer isn’t as good either! Soon you’ll be searching for international networking events, party groups, or even a Couchsurfing club, because frankly, you want to check out the other new kids in town.
Living overseas gives you the unique opportunity to meet many different people of varying cultures. You are most likely going to forge friendships with expats from all over the world but stick with the locals too, you’ll understand their jokes one day!
A New Type of Loneliness
Expats have often experienced a deep sense of loneliness that they’ve never known before.
Moving abroad involves building a life in your new home. Understandably, this takes time. Despite meeting many new people abroad, it will still take a while to establish meaningful relationships and even longer to truly feel at home. Sometimes, you might even feel like an intruder.
But remember, expat loneliness is not a permanent side effect of moving abroad. Eventually, you will build meaningful and long-lasting relationships with friends, neighbours, colleagues and your initial expat loneliness will be a distant memory.
New Experiences, New Knowledge
Once living overseas, travelling to different cities and countries, you will become rich with knowledge of different cultures, languages, and histories. You’ll begin to pick up the miniscule details of a culture, which you cannot learn without living amongst locals.
You’ll begin to notice yourself becoming more appreciative and accepting of different cultures. You may even find yourself wanting to travel and move abroad again, wanting to learn more.
Moreover, you begin to realize you connect with people from your expat country on a deeper level -- by sharing those inside jokes and culture together with them. The more you learn, the more at home you will begin to feel and learning about different cultures may become somewhat of an addiction.
All of the highs and lows of moving abroad -- the fresh start, the loneliness, the sense of achievement -- they will all encourage personal growth. You’ll spend a lot of time learning about a new culture, but you’ll also learn a lot about yourself. You are your own travel companion during a move abroad and you will have the opportunity to spend some quality time with your own company.
Both your social circle and your career network will expand, resulting in an international network of opportunities.
Ultimately, you’ll end up being a stronger, more resilient and wiser person.
You Will Be Patriotic
It happens to us all. You may not have been super patriotic back home (or maybe you were), but you will be bewildered by how patriotic you can be while overseas. Perhaps it’s the differences in food, cultural practices or even just the supermarkets -- the silliest things from home suddenly become something you defend to the end.
You’ll begin to appreciate what makes your home country different and unique -- and you won’t be afraid to let people know.