7 Tips to overcome loneliness when living abroad
Moving to another place has a huge impact on your (social) life. And as an expat, you probably have traveled a very long way from home. Probably even further than most of your friends and family ever will. It is more than likely that at some point you will feel lonely, which makes sense and is completely normal. Even if you moved with or to your partner, it can still feel lonely from time to time. TOSS wants to help you out with tips on how to deal with loneliness.
Tip 1. Explore the neighborhood
You’re in a new environment and that can be quite overwhelming, especially if you’re not familiar with your surroundings. So let’s start with the basics: feeling at home. Try to explore the neighborhood and simply get out and about. Something that takes little effort, but will help enormously is going on walks in your neighborhood. It can be a short or a long walk, just try to walk every day for at least 15-30 minutes. This way you get to know the neighborhood better, little by little.
Tip 2. Be a local
Feeling like an outsider sometimes? Just fake it ‘til you make it! Try to frequently visit local cafés, markets and stores. This will not only help you get more familiar with your neighborhood, but it will also help you meet more people. You will also be welcomed by people in your neighborhood more quickly if you show your face everywhere.
Things you can do to feel like the local you are:
- Learn the rules of living in your host country
- Get involved with the people (join activities, do voluntary work..)
- Learn the language
- Become a regular at local places such as cafés, restaurants and markets
TripAdvisor is a site that may come in handy. The website is a must for finding activities, restaurants and events in any place of the world.
Tip 3. Activities and routines
Do you ever feel like you do not know where to start? Or like you do not know what you are doing or what to do? Routines create a feeling of safety and stability and joining shared activities may help you meet new people. We recommend to build a routine and join activities such as exercise classes and book/film/cook clubs. This way you will meet people who already have the same interests as you. Having a routine will also keep you busy, so that you won’t even have a chance to feel lonely.
Tip 4. Connect online
Another way to connect with more people is by joining online groups for people in your neighborhood and/or for expats who are in the same country you’re in. There are plenty of communities and chat groups on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Reddit. This way you will meet more people in your neighborhood and more people who are in your situation or have been in your situation.
There are also apps that can help you make friends such as Bumble, Lexa and Badoo.
Tip 5. Go out
Parties, markets, festivals, pubs.. you can meet people everywhere. You could for example walk into a public library or a cafe and start a small conversation with someone.
Just a tip from us, once or twice per year, IamExpat hosts the IamExpat Fair. It is interesting to attend whether you recently moved here or you’ve already lived here for quite some time. It is a great way to connect with expats and to meet companies who can help you with things such as school for your kids, a job, language courses and so much more.
The next Fair is on October 1st, 2022, and TOSS will also be there! You can find tickets via their website.
Tip 6. Adopt a pet
Who does not love a small, furry or scaly friend? People are less lonely with a pet. It makes your house more lively if you are living alone. If you want to, and are able to, get or adopt a pet. You can, for example, get a cat, dog, guinea pig, or a fish.
Keep in mind that a pet is a long term commitment and not just a solution to cope with loneliness.
Tip 7. Courses
This tip is, as the Dutch say, two flies in one clap. In the Netherlands, you do not necessarily need to learn the Dutch language, but it can come in handy and Dutch people will always appreciate it.
By following a language course, you meet more people who are more than likely also new to the country and the language. At the same time you learn the language better so that you can easily strike up a conversation with native speakers.
We recommend ExpatLanguageSchool.net for language lessons. TOSS in Holland customers who register with ExpatLanguageSchool with this code: TOSS, will receive 5% off their first contract with them.
Tip 8. Set goals
One person makes friends faster than another. Do you find it hard to find friends or to make the first move? Set goals for yourself. For example:
- Introduce yourself to someone at least once a week
- Go to a bar or a restaurant with someone two times a month
- Make at least one new friend every month
Tip 9. Acceptance
This tip might sound a little bit weird, but acceptance is key. Things don’t always fall into place perfectly the first time, that’s just the way it goes – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Accept that things are going to be different and lonely sometimes, but this is part of the wonderful journey you are on.
Hopefully, these tips will help you overcome loneliness. Just remember whenever you’re feeling sad: feelings are just temporary. And always get professional help if you feel like you need it.