Confession time – moving to a totally new city is, of course, exciting but also nerve-wracking. I have had a constant feeling of nervousness and excited butterflies battling against each other since the day we got on our long haul flight. The holiday is over and it’s time to get serious (aka get a job and a house). It’s kind of like when you have a big assignment or work project you haven’t started, it seems so daunting that it is hard to know where to begin. So, I have decided to share with you the one thing that you must remember when starting any new adventure.
It’s ok to feel bad. No, really, it is. In this day and age of instagramming only the best food and tagging ourselves in only the coolest places on facebook, some things get lost in translation. Nobody posts about the negative stuff, and therefore it can feel like you are alone when life isn’t going the way you expected. But – it is not the amount of times your head goes into a negative head space that matters, but the amount of time you spend there. Learn how to get yourself out of it and into a more focused, positive one. Everyone is different, so you need to learn what works for you. Below I have listed a few proven actions that worked well for me, hopefully they can help you too.
1) Explore your new home
Searching for a house or a job can be a full time job in itself. In a competitive market where you are at a slight disadvantage due to your lack of local knowledge (despite the amount of research you have done), not getting any replies or calls at all can be very demotivating. Being cooped up inside constantly staring at a screen can be depressing. You are overseas, and need to make the most of your time here. In the beginning, I would get up the same time that I would for a normal workday, set myself a goal (e.g. apply for top 5 jobs and room advertisements) and then reward myself with some time in the afternoon to explore the local sites. It will be a quick reminder of why you have decided to make the move in the first place. If I was going for a job or house interview, I would spend time afterwards exploring the area to see if I liked it, after all you will be spending a lot of time there! Another technique is to take your laptop to a cafe or pub with Wifi for a change of scenery.
2) Get out there and meet people
Now is not the time to be shy, and making new friends shouldn’t be put on hold because the rest of your life is not 100% in order. You never know, you may meet someone who can help you out looking for a room or with providing a temporary job. In true international cities, many people who now live there did not grow up there and are equally eager to make friends too. Not comfortable approaching randoms in a bar? There are SO many other ways to make friends! Just think about your interests and have a look on Facebook or Google to see if there is anything in your city. Some examples could be:
- Attending a meet up (e.g. meetup.com)
- Joining a local sports club (e.g. Go Mammoth) or class (e.g. yoga)
- Doing something artsy (e.g. painting, pottery or music class)
- Joining online expat communities and attending their events (e.g. Kiwis in London)
3) Be kind to yourself
If you’re like me and you have high expectations of yourself, it can be hard to avoid disappointment. If you find yourself constantly feeling like you have underachieved, re-evaluate your goals with the following mindset: what’s the worst-case scenario if this doesn’t get done today? Are you setting unrealistic expectations that are making you miserable? Try re-prioritising and postponing less important tasks until later (that email from Grandma can wait, trust me, she will understand). Maintaining a balance is important, and just as if you were having a stressful time at work at uni, you need to treat yourself with care. Have a relaxing bath, meditate, watch a funny tv show, exercise – whatever makes you happy. Personally, I put my essential oils diffuser on and I think a tea can fix anything!
4) Talk to someone who is supportive of your adventure
Depending on your relationships with your parents, they might not always be the best bet when going through hard times. I am lucky and my parents have always supported my desire to travel overseas, however I have had other friends tell me that their parents (while meaning well) only encourage them to come home when they say they aren’t having such a great time. Perhaps it may be better to talk to one of your friends from back home who has made the move before or has a similar interest in doing so. If not, there is always the expat community (see point 2) who are most likely going through the exact same thing as you. If you prefer to speak to someone anonymous there are public help lines available or your company may have an Employee Assistance Program. You can either Google it or speak to your HR department for details, remember there is no shame in asking for help.
It’s a bit cheesy but, when you are feeling down and out, a big thing for me was repeating a “mantra” to myself. You can either design it or if you are lucky enough, you may have it given to you. This was given to me by a friend, feel free to use it: It’ll be alright, mate. The English equivalent to the Australian saying “She’ll be right mate”. Every time I felt defeated, I repeated that to myself. It was unbelievably helpful, and guess what – everything was alright, it was better than alright. It helped me believe in myself, and have a little faith. If you aren’t your own biggest cheerleader, who will be?
Know a friend who could use a little boost? Post this on their wall and give them a few ideas! Or share with me some of your own ideas below!