Being an expat isn’t like having a holiday

A big misconception we’ve all had during a holiday is thinking, “Wow, I could live here!” But in reality, being an expat isn’t like having a holiday.

One of the things I wish I had a better understanding of before moving abroad was that just because I had enjoyed trips abroad (in this case, England) didn’t mean that my life was going to be like those vacations. Working and living in England is very different from travelling around the country.

In my new home in England, my mornings often started early. I would stand at a bus stop, waiting for my bus to work (which was inevitably late). Most days, it was raining, dark and cold.

Then I would spend most of the day working at my desk. This was usually accompanied with stress about upcoming deadlines and wondering if I had anything at home for dinner that night.

Cue my evening bus home (which was inevitably late). Then I would walk home from the bus stop. This was usually in the dark and in the rain, before making dinner and having an early night.

Sounds an awful lot like my daily routine back in my home country, eh?

Being an expat isn’t a holiday, but it’s not a negative experience, either

It’s important to remember that just because you are living and working in an exciting new country, doesn’t mean that you won’t be faced with stress, inconveniences and the daily troubles you faced in your home country. You’ll still experience those, but now in a new location!

I have absolutely loved my time as an expat in England. I wouldn’t trade my expat experience for anything. But it’s important to remember that it’s not always exciting trips, new restaurants and fun experiences. A lot of being an expat is your regular daily life and all the pros and cons that come with it.

It can also be brutal trying to make friends as an expat, but here’s some tips to make it a bit easier.

What do I do if I’m feeling stressed out while abroad?

If you find yourself bogged down with stress and anxiety during your life as an expat: take a deep breath. You’re not alone (I’ve been there, too!) but remember: you are living in a new country! You have made a huge, scary decision and have followed through with your dream. Don’t let those daily stresses make you forget what an incredible experience you’re in the middle of.

In tough times, I use a simple mental checklist to bring me back to reality:

  • Focus on the nearby architecture, so incredibly different from what I’m used to back home in Canada
  • Make a point to have some local food, something really difficult to find back home
  • On your next day off, plan a day-trip to a nearby attraction, historical site or even just a new village

Do you like writing lists (like me)? Use that to channel positive thoughts about expat-life! You can make a written list of everything you’re grateful for in your new country. Maybe you’re grateful for this new experience, the food, your new friends, new work experience, a sunny day – you name it. Practicing gratefulness is a wonderful habit, even if you aren’t stressed out about being an expat.

Sometimes the stress of life and working as an expat can be a lot, but don’t let it take away the joy of living abroad.