Expat Grief: 10 Challenges on Living Abroad

Expat Grief 10 Challenges on Living Abroad

They say the grass is greener on the other side, but there are thorns and bushes also to make your journey difficult. The reality is no one is going to understand what it is like living abroad unless they do it themselves. The price one pays for choosing life overseas is overwhelming, and many Expats struggle with them.

Moving abroad is no easy decision. The list mentioned below is just to cover the most common challenges that Expats face. You will realize you are not alone, and you will surely comfort you. If you are still preparing to make the big move, these points will assist you for the inevitable.

1. It Is Difficult To Maintain Relationships With People Back Home 

It is certainly not easy to keep connected with people back home. Life gets really busy, time zones are different, and are a pain to get comfortable with.

It is also difficult because friends and family cannot understand the emotional turmoil associated with living abroad. Therefore you need not be surprised if your friends don’t take the practical steps to maintain their relationship with you.

2. You Miss The Important Milestones In Your Friend’s And Family’s Lives

This is foreseeable because Expats miss all the things that are associated with their home country, but most importantly, they miss the people that filled that life. Expats are not allowed in most instances to be vocal about their emotional turmoil, because they are answered by sarcastic unsympathetic comments. The truth is Expats choose to live abroad, and they eventually pay the price for that.

3. They Find It Difficult To Say Goodbye Again

Visiting home is chaotic because you have to juggle up so much in a limited time. You end up having breakfast with your parents, coffee with a friend, lunch with a relative, and then dinner with someone else, and squeeze time in between to meet an acquaintance because they all have to work, unlike you, who is on vacation. 

While you consider it important to reconnect with all of them in person, your vacations end up exhausting you because everyone else is not in vacation mode. The worst part is saying goodbye to your loved ones and reliving the heartbreak once again. It is something that you just don’t get comfortable doing.

4. The Expectations Hurt

As an Expat, you have to choose to take the long trek home to visit family, not the other way round, because you were the one who preferred to leave. It’s fortunate to have family who is willing to spend the time and money to visit you, but not everyone is blessed. 

5. Choosing Between Vacationing Somewhere Else and Visiting Family

This is a difficult choice for many Expats which pushes them towards guilt. Initially, it is evident that you want to visit home whenever possible, with the piling invites nudging you as well. Birthdays, weddings, and important milestones are what you don’t want to miss. But down the lane, you will start considering these annual visits as financial drains because you don’t see them as vacations.

The decision is daunting because you don’t understand whether you want to travel anywhere else or see your family back home.

6. The Guilt Comes With The Gig

There is this deep entrenching grief that you are not doing enough to maintain contact with your loved ones. There is guilt because you miss important events back home, as the travel cost is too much for you to bear. Guilt over aging parents, not giving them time. There is also guilt about you enjoying your life abroad, but people back home are struggling for the basics. There is a long list of grievances, which will surround you if you let them.

7. The Mood Swings Lead To Expat Depression

There is little or no study to back this phenomenon, but one thing is for sure, that this is real, more and more Expats are on the verge of developing mental health problems, which more often stem from their Expat depression. Adjusting to new culture makes you feel out of place in the early days, plus there is this social awkwardness that you have never felt before. You start missing home and all things that made it comfortable for you. This develops into depression and aggravates with time.

8. Making New Friends As An Adult Is Very Difficult

We always bond with our childhood friends, and it’s literally difficult to remember when we made friends with someone in our adulthood. Mix this with cultural differences, Expat blues, and social anxiety associated with a new place and you will know what Expat grief is all about. It’s no wonder you yearn for your home badly.

Well, you aren’t alone, because all Expats struggle with building a new network from scratch. Hence you must have a support system, other than your family. We usually take our friends for granted, and this is time to build and nurture new ones. 

9.  The Trauma Of Dealing With Unsupportive Friends And Family

There is nothing more gut-wrenching than dealing with family members who are unsupportive and unsympathetic about your decisions, especially while you are going through the thicker part of them. They think that you have left for good and won’t ever come back. It’s kind of difficult for them too. Their feelings are also valid, and they are trying hard to overcome them. Support is a two-way system. When they need help, you should reach out to them, and when you need help, they should extend their utmost support.

10. They Misunderstand You

You can never explain to them how life has changed for you. For them, life in their familiar bubble is just easy as it was, and you cannot justify your decisions to them, though their comments and judgments are unkind. The truth is that they cannot understand your turmoil because they have not been through it. No matter how hard you try, it will remain vague to them.

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