5 Tips to Help You Make the Most of Living Abroad, Even When You Don’t Like It

Living abroad can be a glamorous and exciting venture, but it can also be incredibly tough—especially if you don’t particularly like where you’re living. We don’t always get to choose where we live; you could be stationed abroad, or perhaps you moved for a better job, or maybe your company has transferred you to a new location. And even when you do get to pick and choose, there are times where the harsh realities of living in X,Y, Z country can be too much to handle, and you end up hating the place you once thought you’d love. But don’t worry, there are ways to combat this type of expat burnout, and we’re here to offer you some really solid tips to do just that.

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1. Join a group or club

When you’re not a fan of the city you’re living in, it can be all too easy to fall into the rut of isolating yourself inside a bubble of loneliness and misery. What’s the best way to deal with living somewhere you hate? Meet people you can learn to love (or even just like)! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played cricket before, join a team. Aren’t much of a reader? Take part in a book club anyway. By joining a team or club you’ll meet people and, more likely than not, run into the same people again and again which makes it a lot easier to form meaningful friendships. You’ll feel so much happier and confident when you have a group of friends you can fall back on when the days get really tough.

2. Take a trip

Sometimes when you don’t like a place you can start to feel suffocated if you stay there for too long. One way to add fresh life to your expat experience is by changing the scenery. It doesn’t have to be a long journey—even a simple day trip can ease the day-to-day pressure and allow you to see your city with fresh eyes. Taking a break from your usual haunts is also an excellent way to recharge your mental batteries so you can come back feeling a little more refreshed and ready to tackle normal life again.

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3. Look at the big picture

It’s important to remember that you won’t accomplish anything by being hard on yourself when you’re having a blue day, week, or month. We all go through tough periods, and you should feel free to be upset or sad if your current situation is really hard on your emotional well-being. Trust me, every expat has those moments where all they want to do is pack up and take the first flight home, but when these thoughts hit particularly hard it’s important to find a way to cool off and relax. Get in a good workout, or vent to a friend, or buy yourself something you really love. Once you’ve done this, stop to think about the bigger picture of why you are where you are. Look at the ways it’s helping you grow and the positive impact it’s having on your life, and avoid ruminating on the negative.

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4. Put yourself out there

Take if from an introvert, putting yourself out there is hella hard. But it’s something you absolutely have to do if you want to make a happier, more stable life for yourself. If you hit it off with someone in your language class, exchange phone numbers so you can catch up outside the classroom. Start up a lunch meet-up for other expats like you. Be a doer instead of a joiner. You’ll develop loads of confidence and will have a blast meeting like-minded people!

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5. Don’t call home too often

I know this seems like weird advice, but if you’re spending hours every day talking to people back home you’re much more likely to feel lonely and unhappy with where you’re living. Nostalgia is nice and all, but in the case of the expat it can actually be quite dangerous. Things always look better through the rose-tinted filter of your memories and you’ll struggle to feel present where you are if you’re constantly looking back at your life before. Maintaining those connections is important, but try to keep it down to a couple phone calls a week.

How do you cope with living a place you don’t like? Share our tips below in the comments section.