Moving abroad can be one of the best decisions you make in your life.
Actually living the day to day grind with people of a different culture in a foreign city forces you to be open-minded, creative and adaptable. Sharing the bus, sharing meals, sharing laughs with the locals – these are experiences that only an expat can truly understand.
Although being an expat can be a life-changing experience, there also comes serious struggles with living in a country that is not your own. Having a different passport then the country you reside in always makes for some challenging (and crazy) times.
1) Language Barriers
Whether you’re living in a country that speaks your language or not, there will still be times where miscommunication can occur. For example, I’m from the United States and speak English, yet I live in Australia and find myself lost in translation half the time.
Aussies tend to want to abbreviate everything, and accents and “abbrevs” can make for a confusing time. It’s always nice to meet a friend from your home country and have an easy and coherent conversation!
2) Connecting With People From Your Country
No matter how much you love living in your new home, nothing beats a good conversation with someone from where you grew up. Easy flow of conversation and similar backgrounds is a breath of fresh air. It’s great to find meet ups in your area or use travel apps to find new friends from home!
Anyone living or working in a foreign country long term will understand my very rational fear of visas. Along with the endless piles of paperwork, there are hours of effort and a bundle of cash just to get your foot through the door. You may have even had the pleasure of doing visa runs in and out of the country several times, but we all know that it’s worth the blood, sweat and tears in the end!
We all get it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been gone 4 minutes or 4 years, we all experience homesickness at some stage as an expat. You may miss you family, or your dog or your local grocery store. It can stop you in your tracks in the middle of the day walking to work, or it can be sparked by a lovely message from your mom. Either way, it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to miss your home, and expats know this feeling inside and out.
There are some times when you are really missing certain products from home. How the heck are you gonna get your hands on your favorite swimsuit from that local shop near your old house? Or what about a box of those delicious Girl Scout cookies? Nothing shows you how much you’re truly missing home like a care package with your favorite treats.
6) Making New Friends
Finally, the part of being an expat I seem to struggle with the most – making new friends. When you move to a new country knowing absolutely no one, it can be downright terrifying to find out you have to build your tribe all over again. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is how to grow and build friendships from the ground up. I’ve learned what is most important to me in a friendship and the type of friend I want to be.
Are the Struggles Real?
Being an expat is more than just living in a foreign country. It’s about accepting the differences of those around you no matter how subtle or extreme. It’s about connecting through culture and perspective and independence.
Are the struggles real? Yes. Are they worth it? Hell yes.
And with amazing companies out there trying to help you feel more at home it gets easier and easier each day. While Grabr may not be able to assist in organizing your visa paperwork, they can ease the struggle of homesickness by bringing your favorite products from home right to your doorstep and connect you with people who just came from where we’re missing most.
Kelly is a full time wanderluster, part time travel blogger. Florida-born, Sydney-based. She’s a freelance content writer & social media specialist. She’s traveled to 37 countries and lived in 3. Her favorites include Indonesia, Croatia, Australia and Costa Rica. In between trips, KP likes to practice yoga, write, run on the beach and plan the next big adventure.