3 Mar 2021
How to overcome loneliness when living abroad
Embarking on a new way of life is an exciting and challenging time. Those first days and weeks as a new expat are exhilarating but eventually that begins to wear off as you start settling into a routine. As a single expat experiencing a new Asian culture, a feeling of homesickness and culture shock can leave you with a sense of loneliness. This is not uncommon and there are several ways to minimize this.
Expand your social circle beyond the workplace
Your new work colleagues will likely be extremely welcoming and eager to help you settle in after moving, but socializing may not be as high a priority for them. Take the plunge and get out there to start connecting with others. Everyone has an interest or hobby, and a shared passion opens the door to more fulfilling personal connections. Taking language lessons is an obvious ‘win-win’ choice to meet like-minded people in the same situation.
Set yourself a routine
Without a circle of close friends to lean on, there is a temptation to simply head home after work and binge-watch your favourite TV shows. To avoid falling into this trap, set yourself a routine. Make the most of days off and weekends to plan at least one activity a week. You could start simply with a walk in the countryside or join an organized tour of a popular landmark. You’ll be able to build on this to include more social activities over time.
Start connecting with other expats
Virtual every major Asian city has a vibrant expat community. If you are feeling lonesome, you can bet hundreds of other expats have been there too. Start by joining a Facebook expat community before your move and engaging with others for support and inspiration. Many offer regular weekly or monthly meet-ups for new expats. In every city, you will find expat-focused sports clubs, business associations or rotary clubs to get involved in.
Prolonged loneliness can lead to the onset of depression and of course, it affects everyone differently. It’s tempting to throw yourself into your new work role and leave nothing left for personal enjoyment. Quality downtime is important. Embrace positive thinking, eat healthily and make time for mindfulness to brush those expat blues away.