Expat life can be exhilarating, exciting, and loads of fun, but it can also be isolating, lonely and depressing. Every posting is different, every city and country has its pro’s and con’s, but there is one thing that you need in every location, and that is a positive thought process. Sometimes you might be lucky, and you may find your tribe without even trying. But for most of us, we need to go searching for our tribe.
How to find your tribe
I am not giving you the green light to stalk someone; this is never a good idea. What I am saying is that you need to put yourself out there, especially at first, and attend events, invitations, group activities etc. on your own. Sign up to events you have never tried before, hobbies that you will find likeminded people or classes to push you out of your comfort zone.
Go along to coffee mornings, sign up to international clubs, attend parties even if you have to walk in alone. Remember, we have all been in your position, one time or another. It is daunting, but I have met some of the most fabulous people by doing this. People are kinder than you give them credit for, especially in a foreign land – trust me on that one.
Give people a go
Okay, so you have rocked up to the coffee morning, and you look around! You are desperately looking for someone your age. Or maybe your nationality or even your gender. In your head, you want to turn around and run for the hills. I am begging you, don’t let first impressions deter you, give it a go. You do not know if you have anything in common until you get to know the people around you. Sure, they probably aren’t the people that you would have gravitated towards previously, but you need to remember this is an entirely new life and you are here to find your tribe.
Try not to compare your previous posting; this will only set you up for a fail. Especially stop comparing your old friendships, remember them as they are as you aren’t here to replace them entirely. You are here to make new friends not replicas of your old ones. The biggest issue with comparing is that you start to have expectations, so you end up rejecting the people before you get to know them, just because they are different to what you are comparing them to.
It is okay to be vulnerable
Okay, so I am not asking you to pour your heart out to strangers, but I am advising you to be honest! If people know that you are having a tough time, that you are lonely or that you are new. Then they are more willing to open up to you and let you be part of their world. They are also more willing to help! You never know unless you ask.
Make the first move
Sometimes instead of waiting for people to approach you, you need to make the first move. Invite someone out for coffee or along to a class you are about to start. Whether they have been around the location for many years or they have just arrived, there are no rules here. You can make the first move.
When old friends have left
Finding your tribe in a location that has been your home for some time is a hard one. It is the expat life that your little expat family has decided to move on, so now what do you do? Well, it is time to start over (as hard as that may seem) and put yourself out there once again. Start going back to coffee mornings, volunteering your services and start a new hobby altogether.
I guess the most significant rule of thumb here is to make an effort! You will never find your tribe sitting at home by yourself. Even if you feel uncomfortable, talking to people and keeping yourself busy, makes life feel that little bit better. Especially when you are living in a country, and you are yet to learn the local language, this is imperative. You will become stir crazy ( I learnt the hard way).
So go out, explore, push boundaries and enjoy your surroundings. Discover new hobbies or practice old ones. Your tribe is out there; you just haven’t found them yet.