Your bags are packed, your tickets are purchased, and you’re ready for your new adventure with your soon to be short-distance love.
It’s everything you’ve worked for. So why all the butterflies in your tummy?
Moving is a big change. And like any big change, there are some challenges ahead for the new person in town. Luckily, there are ways to prepare for them. Below are some pitfalls and tips on how to handle them.
You’ve traded one long-distance relationship for another (your family and friends).
And you miss them. It’s natural. You’ve plonked down in somewhat unfamiliar surroundings, and you don’t have your safety net.
Start by organizing weekly or monthly Skype calls with your family and friends. Emails can feel impersonal, and you’ll want to hear some friendly voices. Even ordering minutes on Skype to call their phones if they don’t want to video chat is very economical.
I get to talk to my family, but I feel lonely here.
Again, completely normal to have feelings of isolation and loneliness. Remember all the things you did to find friends in your old home? It’s time to start all over again. Religious organizations or volunteering are great ways to meet people. So is looking up the local boards for any activity groups you find enjoyable – perhaps Tai Chi or pets is your thing. Find other enthusiasts nearby, and invite them for coffee.
Finding a job can lead to some friends through co-workers. So can bar-hopping, or even travelling.
Another great way to find friends? Look for other new migrants. There are many expat boards you can join which have meet-ups. And these people can hook you up with all sorts of things a new expat like you may need.
Planning weekly activities and giving yourself a full schedule are also important. The less time on your hands to sit around and think, the less time there is to think about home. Keeping busy will integrate you better into your new community.
We speak different languages, and I’m struggling to communicate.
This is another common problem. Even if you’ve taken some language classes, it feels very different when talking to native speakers. Sign up for more classes in your community. Watch local TV – no cheating! Listening to people, even with them speaking quickly, will help. Again, finding the expat community will help as well, with people to help explain things and share tips and tricks for making it easier.
Going to the store (or wherever) leaves me feeling overwhelmed and confused.
Having to really realize you’ll have to pick out a whole new line of food, washing brands, and so on, can feel really overwhelming. All of these decisions, big and small, can feel like they’re hurtling at you all at once. And they are. Trying to explain this to someone who hasn’t been in this position can feel even more frustrating and futile.
Cut yourself some slack. Some decisions are important, and others, like figuring out which brand of detergent you like, are less so. Give yourself permission to goof up with your detergent, and just try what looks good. It’s ok to not like it and pick another.
And feel free to express your frustration to someone who understands. You’ll probably be swapping funny stories about purchasing mishaps in no time.
Marisol Dunham has been a freelance writer since 2007, and now lives with her once long-distance boyfriend in Australia. An American wandering the bush, she writes about her life and writing ventures on her blog at http://www.madunham.com/. You can find her on Twitter at @maridunham.