Einsamkeit als Expat

If you have left your country of origin, whether alone or with/to a partner, you will often find yourself in situations where you are completely on your own. On the one hand, this is an important challenge from which you can learn a lot. On the other hand, it may well be that you often feel very lonely in such situations.


Here I share some personal experiences and examples from my practice that I hope will be useful to you in your situation.


What are you leaving behind?


Life in another country can be very exciting, but it is often also lonely.

Especially when we emigrate as adults, we leave a lot behind. Friendships and important social networks are often taken for granted as long as they are there. From the distance you figure out, they are treasures that have been built up and consolidated over the years and that give you an important foothold in your life. If you have decided to emigrate, you leave these treasures behind and somehow have to start all over again.


The new beginning is part of the adventure


For those who have decided to emigrate, leaving their familiar networks behind is often part of the adventure. Many see it as an important step in their personal development. But that is precisely why it is not easy. Ideally, you will emerge from this experience stronger and more self-confident. But what is important and what should you always keep in mind?


- Loneliness abroad affects everyone at some point


Many people ask me whether they might have done something wrong because they sometimes feel so lonely. One reason for emigrating was also the desire to expand, i.e. to meet new people and expand your circle of friends and acquaintances. We often forget that our closest friendships have been built over years and that it is quite normal that it takes time to form new close friendships. In addition, you are not yet familiar with the cultural codes of conduct in your new adopted country and probably never Will be.


- Making new friends in adulthood is generally more difficult


Much of what we find difficult abroad would probably be just as difficult at home at this moment in our lives. Making friends in adulthood is definitely a challenge. We are no longer in the same 'school' environment where we automatically meet a large group of peers on a daily basis, many of whom even have similar interests. Feelings of loneliness among adults are generally very common.


Friendships and family relationships have a different significance depending on the culture


Living in another country is different in every respect. You don't meet the same people. Values in relationships differ from culture to culture. What people in your adopted country imagine friendship to be and what they expect from friends may be different from what they expect in your country of origin. This can unintentionally lead to misunderstandings.


Tips from my practice for dealing with these challenges:


- In adulthood, we often have to be more intentional about making friends

We don't get into as many spontaneous situations with like-minded people as we did as teenagers or students. Always try to take advantage of situations. For example, when you start a new hobby somewhere, take part in a workshop or talk to the parents of your children's friends. Many people are more open than you think, because they feel the same way. We're just all afraid to take the first step.


- Close friendships take time

Sometimes you don't feel like you can develop a close friendship at first, but if you stick with it, you'll get to know each other better and share more and more experiences. Friendships also develop through shared experiences and stories that have to happen first.


- Find your expat community

Meeting other people with similar challenges is the best way to combat loneliness. There are almost always others around you who are going through a similar situation, and talking about it can be very healing.


- Continue to cultivate old friendships from your home country

Just because you no longer live in the same country doesn't mean you can no longer have the same conversations. You can no longer be as involved in your lives as you used to be, but you can still share experiences, laugh together and listen to each other.


- The idea of friendship can change

There are very close friends with whom we are very familiar. We believe they must always live close by, but they can also remain our old friends from home. There may also be other friendships: Friends for hobbies, friends from the neighborhood, friends to celebrate with. Not every friend has to fulfill the same needs, and we can't expect the same things from every friendship.


- In solitude, be your best companion


Loneliness can also lead to shame. Many people believe that if they feel lonely, it is because somethings wrong with them, and this makes being alone even harder. Realize that it is completely normal to have moments when you are alone. It's generally difficult to always have someone nearby who understands you. Think about what you like to do when you are alone. Especially if you live in another country, there are lots of things you don't want to do alone, but could do.


- Also ask yourself whether no one can really be with you at the moment


If we think carefully about who we know and how we are networked, we can always think of someone we could perhaps give a call. It just takes some effort to take the first step.


I can also understand these situations very well from personal experience and am happy to support you. If you still have doubts or realize that your loneliness may be getting the better of you, professional support can be a good start to regaining motivation and perspective.



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