If you are among the increasing number of expatriates living overseas, you may at times, particularly when you’ve recently moved abroad, find yourself lost and lonely and in need of support.
There are many reasons why people relocate to a foreign country. It may be a lifelong fascination with a particular culture, a posting by a multi-national corporation, humanitarian aid agency, or embassy, retiring to a country which is more economical, or following a spouse who has been assigned to a foreign post. Whatever the initial reason, there is a usually a somewhat rocky settling in period.
This settling in period is sometimes referred to as culture shock and usually follows a honeymoon period where you may find yourself fascinated by the newness of the culture. The honeymoon phase is likened to being a tourist when the enormity of your undertaking has not been fully grasped.
Unfortunately, during the culture shock period, we are often without our usual safety net of support. Family and close friends have been left behind and we have not yet been able to establish new relationships. We may also feel intimated by the culture, particularly if we do not know the local language. During this time it is imperative to do whatever we can to begin to develop a support system.
If you’re single and working, your support system will most likely develop from the workplace, especially if there are other single people there. Yet, not being in a significant relationship can seem particularly daunting during this time. Single expats can be besieged with feelings of loneliness and sadness until support networks kick in. It is particularly important at this initial stage to reach out to co-workers and other people you meet to begin to build up a support system.