What Makes An Unhappy Expat? Part 1

Moving Abroad and The Unhappy Expat

As an expat, there are times when the journey becomes miserable. Disillusionment takes up residence with despair, and its close relative depression comes knocking on your door.  Before the negative spiral gets out of control, it can help to have a close look at what might be causing the problems. The most common expat concerns can be broken down into two camps; the internal stuff and the external. We have a reasonable amount of control over the internal stuff. This is in our sphere of influence and ability to change. The external stuff can often fall outside this sphere of influence, but we can still decide how we perceive it.

In this post, I want to focus on the internal problems and how you can turn these around.

Internal stuff:

Just plain grumpy; Sometime we just get this way regardless of our location. Everyday feels like a Monday and there seems to be no end in sight.  Maybe you are just plain bored and need to explore your new world a little. Get out, try something new and while you are at it have a good honest attitude check and try to turn your grumpiness around.

Moaning-itis: Ok, not really a word, but you get the idea. The moaning starts with little things, like the bread not tasting the same and escalates into moaning about the smell, the texture, the neighbors, the crowds and on it goes. Just stop the moaning for a day and see if this helps.

Unmet expectations: This is a big one. The moment we decide to move to a new place we start imagining it and creating ideas about how it will be. Of course, the reality is always different. But, if we have built high expectations based on this imagining, we can be sorely disappointed when they are not met. Have a good look at the things that you are most unhappy about. Did you have unrealistic expectations? Maybe it is time to let these go and just enjoy what you have. After all,  is what it is.

Trying to recreate your life from home: Trying to recreate your home nation in your new one is a recipe for disaster.  From the food to the driving styles, everything is slightly different to what you are used to. Your life is different, and the more you can accept and embrace the difference, the happier you will be.

Only socializing within your cultural group: It is great to make friends with other expats from our homeland, but when we become exclusive about only socializing within one group, we limit our enjoyment of the experience. One of the greatest benefits of living as an expat is the chance to meet new friends from all over the world. Be brave and go introduce yourself to someone new.

Automatically thinking our way of doing things is right: Eating rice and fish for breakfast is just wrong. I admit I find it hard to stomach an Asian style breakfast on the best of mornings, but millions of others love it. Just because it is wrong for me, does not mean it is wrong. Live and let live.

You wouldn’t be happy anywhere: Some of us fall into this category. This is really deep internal stuff that really has little to do with the location. Learning how to be happy wherever you are, requires you to stop being so damn unhappy everywhere. Some soul-searching required to sort this problem out.

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