By Milena Guimaraes Lamon in partnership with Differänce Intercultural Consultants
I’ll give you my personal opinion first. Make friends, keep your mind busy and most importantly don’t be alone—open yourself up to new people as much as you can. You can always learn something new, exchange experiences, and have fun.
When you have an opportunity to live in another country is extremely important to talk to your family beforehand and create a plan together. The more you know about the new place the less chances you’ll have to feel lost and desperate. Also, it is normal to be afraid of everything in the beginning; a new country, new language, new people, new rules, new culture, and a new way of life. It’s essential to make plans for yourself while the kids are in school and your spouse is at work. Otherwise, you may start to feel unproductive and like you’ve lost perspective. If this happens, you will get depressed, frustrated and the chances of your assignment going wrong will be high. This is especially true for introspective people who don’t like to ask for help—even from close friends.
For example, you’ll have instances where you’ll need to go to a doctor and after your first appointment, you’ll get home and realize that you didn’t understand exactly what he or she told you. You’ll be left with questions such as; what are the next steps? How much do I have to pay for the exam? How much will our insurance cover? There are so many questions you didn’t understand for so many reasons. Maybe because you are shy, maybe because you don’t understand the language or maybe because you don’t like to ask for help. You may even start to negatively judge the doctor, or the staff, or the clinic, even if you know that they did an excellent job.
Finally, there comes a point when you realize that you can’t do it by yourself. You need help, you need friends, you need people.
While there are so many things you can do independently, when we are living through a new experience and we need help, we have to recognize it and be proactive. It’s ok if you are not ready to go to the grocery by yourself. It’s ok if you did something ‘wrong’ even after reading all the rules beforehand. It’s ok if you couldn’t find an activity to do that makes you happy.
Oftentimes your lived reality looks different from what you imagined. Before your move, you did research about the city, lifestyle, services, rules, schools, hospitals, everything. You feel like you are ready to go. You don’t need any help. But when you get to your country of destination you feel like, “Oh My Gosh. Everything is so different in person.” In the beginning, it’s not easy for anyone because most of time you do something wrong and get frustrated. Especially if you close yourself off from people, family, and friends.
My advice is:
· Calm down, clear your mind
· Meet people
· Be in the present and stop comparing your life to what you had in the past
· Focus on what you have in the moment
· Appreciate the things that you have
· Get rid of fear
· Make the necessary changes
When we spend time with those that care about us, we feel less isolated and alone which can decrease symptoms of depression. We also experience a sense of safety, which can lower our anxiety. Having someone to talk about life or simple things can be therapeutic and can make us feel as if a weight has been lifted from our shoulders. Indeed, mental health is just as important as physical health.