Living abroad: 5 tips to help you achieve balance while building your new life
Moving abroad is exciting, but it’s a lot. For working-age people especially, balancing their working and home lives with all of the other challenges that come with living abroad can be a struggle. Life coach Marie Elizalde shares some tips to help you achieve balance and become the master of your own happiness.
Moving abroad is an exciting adventure! However, the first few months can sometimes be a bit overwhelming: finding accommodation, learning the language, changing your habits, everything is new and unknown. Not to mention that your usual support system might not be as easily reachable as before. So here are a few tips to help you navigate this challenging period, so you can make the best out of your life as an expat!
1. Build your new life across cultures
You come to a new country with your existing culture, so the temptation is big to either hold onto it as much as you can, to bring you comfort, or the complete opposite: to deny it entirely in order to fit in. Who said you have to choose?
Being an expat doesn't have to mean being shattered, but rather becoming layered! You will very soon come to the realisation that you will never again be a “single culture” person. The quicker you realise that, the more you will be able to fully embrace what it means to be an expat: be the sum of all the people you meet, the food you discover, the quirks you find in languages, and mix this into a unique blend that will become… you version 2.0!
2. Recharge your batteries
What a fast-paced life you have lived since you landed in your new country! But when was the last time you took care of yourself? The expatriation journey requires resilience and courage, so be the tortoise, not the hare! You will get no extra points for finishing faster, at the price of getting burned out.
Take the time to do whatever it is you need to feel recharged: practice your favourite sport, get out into the countryside, catch up with your family and friends at home, get support, meditate, knit - anything you want. And most importantly: don't forget to breathe! When things get hectic, step away for a few minutes and take some deep breaths. It will help you feel more settled and calm instantly.
3. Focus on what you have already achieved
Sure, your flat is tiny and you could do with some more friends, but look how far you have come! A while ago you were in another country, maybe not even thinking that you could live somewhere else, and, if you did, probably stressing about the implications of such a move. And still, here you are!
Bear in mind that becoming an expat means taking on the challenge of building a whole new life for yourself. No less. So cut yourself some slack: Rome was not built in a day! Be nice to yourself. Instead of focusing on everything you could do better or have more of, be grateful for what you have already built in such a short period. Not everybody could do it, but you did. Kudos to you!
4. Be mindful about your free time
When the challenges of expatriation become too much, we tend to choose mindless activities to fill our time off: binge-watching TV series, gossiping with friends, and scrolling from one cat video to another. While “un-wiring” our brain can have positive effects, spending all your leisure time on this is not encouraged.
Why? Well, we are what we put our energy into, so you might want to regularly invest some of your free time in activities that nourish you. Take a proper lunch break, away from your computer and your phone, outside of the office if you can. Participate in a fun activity with your friends, whether that's going out for coffee, trying a new exercise class, or even something that uses your brain in new ways like an escape room! Slow down on social media scrolling, contact people directly and connect with them. In a word, be mindful of what you spend your time and energy on, and redirect them if needed. You will be surprised by the positive impact on your work / life balance!
5. Remember to enjoy the ride
You might have moved for a great career opportunity and, while a new job is important, don't forget to live a little on the side! Take the time to visit your surroundings. If you can, ask for tips from people who have been in the country for longer than you.
Check your letterbox, local advertising and posters to be aware of local goings-on, events, or anything else you might be interested in. Grab a map and look for parks, riverbanks and green spots where you could unplug when you need to. If you are lucky enough to live in an international city, take the opportunity to meet people from all around the world and learn more than you could ever imagine about other places and cultures!
Becoming an expat can be a life-changing experience, so have a blast mixing, discovering and learning during your journey!
Marie Elizalde helps working individuals in their 20s, 30s and 40s readjust their work / life balance, discover what matters to them, and inject more fun and happiness into their lives. If you feel like you could do with a bit of support, no matter whether you’re still adjusting or have been abroad for a while, she would be happy to help - just get in touch and book your free consultation call!