If you are preparing to spend an extended amount of time abroad, you are in for one of the most exciting and enriching experiences of your life. There are just so many things you will encounter that are so different from your life now—that is really exciting. But, there is a flip side to everything and all that ‘difference’ can be a source of frustration at times, especially once you have been there awhile and the ‘newness’ of everything wears off. If you are already abroad, you may be experiencing this unpleasant phenomenon right now.
Having spent the last three years living and traveling internationally, I have learned a thing or two about coping with this problem. Here are some of my suggestions to keep in mind.
Just Accept Things for What They Are
Living abroad is really fun and exciting, and it is easy to romanticize it in our heads. We envision every moment filled with fascinating experiences. But, after being there for a while, sometimes things that seemed fascinating become less so because it no longer feels new.
You are used to it. Behaviors and customs that seemed so quirky and interesting can quickly become a source of great annoyance. You start zeroing in more on the things you don’t like or wish were different.
Because we have built up the experience so much in our heads, our reaction to these negative things becomes much more intense. The bubble gets burst.
You may still not like certain things, but do your best to just accept situations for what they are, and take everything as it comes, you will not feel as upset. Realize no place is a utopia.
Reach out for the Familiar
Being abroad for prolonged periods can make you feel a bit disoriented sometimes; the frustrations make you miss the familiar even more. Finding ways to connect with it has always been very helpful for me. One of the best things for me is using a proxy server service to watch HBO Go abroad and other sources of American television. Go to that bar packed with expats from your own country. Eat at the McDonald’s, it’s okay.
Be Grateful for the Experience
Gratitude for what is good in our lives is one of the best ways to feel better about the things that aren’t so great right now. Traveling presents us with an amazing opportunity to broaden our horizons, get to know ourselves better and develop a host of skills that will serve us well in all areas of life, such as patience and tolerance. Most of the world will never, ever experience what you are experiencing right now. They will never leave their country—they may never even leave the immediate area in which they have spent their entire lives.
You are human and have emotions, but when you think about the experience in this light, you can gain a better perspective, a perspective where the problems you are having don’t seem as bad as you think they are.