LIVING ABROAD – How to overcome struggles and loneliness

Moving abroad sounds like a dream come true and we often look at it in this glamorous movie kinda way, but the reality is very different. Today I´d like to share some of my experiences with you and talk about the things that helped me to settle in easier.

I lived overseas in four parts of the world. Now that I´m having a partner, who is also from a different country, I´m sure that in the future we will live in a few new places. I´m a german girl, who lived in Spain for a couple of months, in Australia for almost a year, in Chile for half a year and until July I´m for one year in France. Until this point, I have absolutely no idea where I and my partner will move next. It could be back to Latin America or somewhere completely new. It´s very likely that it will be a new country again, depending on where he will get the best job offer. Moving to a new country can be exciting, but it comes with lots of struggles and sometimes even loneliness. So if you just moved to a new place or are thinking about living abroad, here are some of the things, that helped me to feel at home in the new environment.

Be Open To Change

First I want to say that it´s totally normal, that you will struggle. Depending on where you move there will be language barriers and cultural differences. It will be challenging and part of your personal growth might be, that you start questioning some of your own habits and behaviours. Moving abroad is leaving your comfort zone, the sooner you accept the change the more you will enjoy it.

Explore Your Environment Quickly

Especially in the first two weeks I recommend exploring your new neighbourhood as quickly as possible. Make it your mission to get to know all the streets and surroundings. Find the nearest grocery store, a place where you can go for exercise, a library and all the other spots that you loved in your old city.

Say Yes

If you are exhausted and tired, which will happen quickly in a new place, cause your brain is so overwhelmed by all the new experiences, promise yourself one thing: Do not stay in, please go out. And believe me, I´ve been there. So often. And I would have preferred to lay on the couch and watch a series, often I did. But with my last two moves abroad I learned that the quicker and the more you go out in the first two weeks, the easier and more comfortable it will get for you afterwards. Take every opportunity that you can see, try out new things and give people a chance to get to know you. You never know where it will lead you.

Plan Daily Human Interactions

If you are someone who struggles with meeting new people and is not naturally outgoing then set yourself a goal of talking to strangers for 5 minutes a day. It can be starting to chat a bit with your cashier at the supermarket, someone in a café or on the train. You might feel frightened by it in the beginning, cause everything feels scary and new, but the more you get to know the people in your new place the less lonely you will feel. You can have human interactions almost everywhere if you want to. Those small interactions will also help you when you start to learn a new language.

Make Building Connections Your Highest Goal

When you move abroad you leave your trusted network at home, so it´s important to fill those spots with new people. Concentrate actively on making new friends everywhere. Whenever you meet someone, that you think is nice ask them to go for a walk or a coffee. You might think that you don´t have much in common with the person, but give it a shot anyways! Even if in the end you do not get along, you learned something new about your city. There is a high chance that you meet new people over that person and most people are really open when they hear that you are new in a place and offer some help or will introduce you or invite you to events. Especially when you move to a place with or for your partner it´s very important to find your own friends as well.

Find Your Community

Something that I underestimated is finding a community. This could be online or in person. A sport, a book club, a religious group – whatever you are interested in. When I moved to Chile I looked up a Facebook Group of germans in Chile and found some amazing girls on that side. By posting in the group I created a girl’s group. They were all super happy about it too, cause they have been living in Chile without knowing each other and we went for weekly dinners and even now that I´m not living in Chile anymore we are in contact. I can also recommend the website MeetUp where you find people to go to events together.

Share Your Adventures

Share your journey with others. You are making a ton of unique and super interesting experiences. Write them down and share them with the world over Instagram, a Blog or Youtube. Or it could be just for you in a diary or a scrapbook mixed with all the pictures and ticket cards of things you did. I love going back in time, when I look at the picture books of the last years with all the little crazy moments, that I might have forgotten already. This will also help you to realize how far you came. All the little and big struggles, one day in the future you will look back and smile cause after all you learned so much from them and managed them all.

Don´t Go Home (too quickly)

The worst you can do is go back before you settled in in your new place, cause you will just start missing stuff and people even more. Wait a few weeks or even months, until you really feel connected and have friends. Make sure you have something you are looking forward to going back to. The funny thing is, the longer you are away from your home country, the more you will realize how much you´ve outgrown it. Nevertheless, stay connected with your family and friends from your home country. Invite them to visit you instead. Let them see that you have a new life and you want them to be a part of it.

It Will Take Time

Trust the process and give it the time that it needs. You might not find a new best friend in the first month, but that doesn´t mean that you won’t get there at all. Or your new job or job colleagues might be different from what you expected, don´t give up. Often it takes more time than you think not only for you to settle in, but also for the others around to get used to you. Don´t be harsh to yourself, when things don´t go as planned or when you feel like failing. It´s all part of the process and often the change comes in the moments when you expect it the least.

Now it´s time to share some of your experiences with me! Have you ever lived abroad? What helped you to settle in?

I wish you all an amazing adventure,

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  1. Hi Tiziana,
    ein sehr spannender Beitrag! Ich habe noch nie im Ausland gelebt, bin bisher nur innerhalb Deutschlands umgezogen. Ich denke, gerade die Kultur kennen zu lernen und sich selbst nicht zu sehr hängen zu lassen, sind die schwierigsten, aber auch wichtigsten Punkte, um sich einzuleben. Total spannend, diese Einblicke zu geben und auch toll, dass du selbst beschreibst, dass es Arbeit ist und nicht alles von alleine geht, denn ich glaube, manche Menschen haben oft auch extrem hohe Erwartungen und sind dann enttäuscht, weil auch im Ausland irgendwann ein Alltag eintritt.
    Liebe Grüße!!

    1. Das hast du sehr schön geschrieben! Ja, auch im Ausland tritt irgendwann mal Langeweile und Alltag ein, aber das ist ja auch ganz gut so, denn nur dann merkt man, dass man wirklich „angekommen“ ist 🙂

  2. These are great tips! I hope they help other people who have just moved to a different country 🙂 Lovely photos too!

    Hope you had a good weekend and that your week is off to a nice start 🙂

  3. Love these tips, I’m sure they will be very helpful to those going through a move to a new place. I have lived in the same state my entire life, so it would be hard for me to imagine the difficulties of moving to a new country. I admire how well you’ve handled moving new places and that you’ve truly embrace new adventures. 🙂

    Make Life Marvelous

  4. Hey Tiziana, hope you’re doing good!

    I really enjoyed this post, as you I’ve been living in many different places and sometimes I feel that I should settle down, but at the same time I love to get around and discover new places, new possibilities and new ways to understand life from different perspectives.

    All your comments are really valuable and I hope they can be useful for many people, specially after collecting many experiences. By the way I didn’t know you lived in Spain, where?!

    I hope you get adapted soon to your new home, I moved from Mexico to Barcelona 5 years ago but sometimes I still feel like I am floating in a bubble, but little by little I feel that it is my home 🙂


    1. Hi Pablo,

      I lived in Madrid for a couple of months in 2008 which feels like a life ago haha.

      We almost moved to Barcelona instead of France! It´s such an amazing city. I really like spanish speaking countries 🙂

  5. Liebe Tiziana, ein Auslandssemester oder ein berufliches Auslandsjahr hört sich auf den ersten Blick meist einfach nur toll an – doch es gibt dabei auch Einiges zu bedenken, vor allem wenn man diese Zeit alleine antritt. Ich habe dies zwar selbst noch nie gemacht, aber zwei Familienmitglieder sind beruflich im näheren und ferneren Ausland und da habe ich doch auch Vieles quasi mitgefühlt und miterlebt. Dabei ist immer wieder dieser Punkt durchgeschimmert, dass man selbst sehr aktiv sein muss, dass man selbst auf die anderen zugehen muss und nicht erwarten kann, dass dies von anderen übernommen wird. Auch bestimmte Organisationen sind dabei immer wieder mal gerne eine Hilfe. Doch wirklich herausfordernd sehe ich das in dieser unsicheren Zeit, wie wir sie durch Corona eben erleben und was du auch selbst schon erfahren musstest. Daher finde ich deine Zusammenstellung dieser Punkte wirklich gelungen.
    Hab einen ganz wunderbaren Abend und alles Liebe Gesa

    1. Vielen Dank liebe Gesa! Ich hoffe, dass es deinen Familienmitgliedern im Ausland gut geht und sie sicher durch die doch sehr schwierige Coronazeit kommen! <3

  6. Thanks for the great trips Tiziana! I moved to Berlin years ago but in many ways I’ve had to start again, so some of the tips apply, Trying to start over socially in a pandemic is challenging but luckily I’m a creative, so I’m able to meet new people via projects, social media etc. Have a lovely week, Xo

  7. Wonderful photos in this post, Tiziana! I actually love the fact that you are constantly moving to explore new places, not just as a tourist, but to actually live there. I’ve lived in different countries throughout my life too and am also very open to moving again! That’s the biggest fun to me and I am sure you guys too xx


    1. Wow Naya I didn´t knew that you like living in different places so much 🙂
      That´s amazing! In the next weeks it will decide, where we will live after summer for the next years and I´m so excited to find out!

    1. Haha oh tracy yes I totally agree! It can be so scary and weird to start a conversation with a stranger, the good thing is you get more used to it 🙂

    1. Wow Equador sounds amazing! What did you choose that country? Wish you lots of luck that one day you can move there, even if it´s just for a while 🙂

  8. Everything you’ve written here is spot on! I’ve had to go away from home for school it was lonely a first but you get used it. I think I just accepted the place for what it was and did not compare my current situation to the one I had at home. I guess it made me more open to explore and interact.

    1. That´s a good tip. Comparing things to your old place all the time will just make the process of settling in harder!
      Amazing that you were so open, especially at that young age it was probably not the easiest! So brave of you 🙂

  9. I’m in the same situation as you. I’ve been living in my third different countries and we’re moving a lot.
    And I can totally relate with you.
    I feel like more you’re living aboard more it’s easier to adjust to a new place. Don’t you think ?
    I feel like I became more open-minding. At first I was seeing all the differences from France and now it’s almost the contrary.
    I hope you’re enjoying France.

    1. Oh yes Margot that is so true! I think the adjusting get´s easier but you also always leave a little part of you behind in those spots where you lived and will miss some of it in the next country. A weird feeling that suddenly even in your home country there is always something missing 🙂

  10. Congratulations on such a beautiful change! I adore your photos, if I’m not mistaken they were taken in Luxor, Egypt? <3 The tips for living abroad are so true and will be of great use for those wanting to move somewhere else, thank you so much for sharing your own experience. <3

    1. Vielen Dank Milli! Ich muss sagen, hätte man mir vor zehn Jahren gesagt, dass ich mal im Ausland leben würde und dann auch noch in so vielen verschiedenen Ländern, dann hätte ich nur gelacht und die Person für verrückt erklärt. So habe ich mir ein Leben eigentlich nie vorgestellt, doch über die Jahre führte eins zum anderen und manchmal bringt das Leben einen an ganz unerwartete Orte 🙂

    1. Oh I didn´t knew that Mariann. That is so amazing! I´m glad I could give you some helpful tips 🙂 Hope you will settle in good in your new home!

  11. I 100% feel this post as someone who use to live for about four years in Japan, and I think the only thing I use I did more was to share, which now would be a lot easier than over ten years ago because of social media. Great post and advice.

    1. Oh wow Japan sounds like an amazing place to live!
      I remember when I lived overseas for the first time in 2008 the family I stayed with didn´t had wifi at home and I didn´t had a smartphone yet so I needed to drive to the next city for an hour (we lived outside of Madrid) to go to an internet café on a super old computer. Feels like a lifetime away haha!! I´m so glad it´s way easier nowadays. Also with pictures and speech messages it´s so easy to stay connected 🙂

  12. We moved out of our home country long back. We lived in Cambodia for 7 years, now we are in Philippines. It is great to be living in a different country and I love learning so many new things. I keep visiting my home country in a couple years. But life is more peaceful and happy. 🙂

    Via |

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