Making a move to a foreign country is making a major move in life. There is no doubt that it comes with unique challenges and opportunities that can’t be found elsewhere. Even though this might sound and feel like an amazing idea with no possible drawbacks. But if there’s one thing expat counselling has proven without a doubt it’s that a lot of things might become overwhelming as time goes by. This is, after all, completely unknown lands. So how are you supposed to know where to turn if you don’t even know the place?
The truth is that it doesn’t have to get to the point of confusion and despair. Most people will experience some mental hardship when moving abroad, so it’s a good idea to explore your options. Even if you don’t experience any mental hardships, taking advice from a professional might just make this new life easier to deal with.
In today’s day and age, making contact online is a good option for finding a professional on arrival. Online counselling has boomed during the pandemic, and the convenience of having it online will remove the effort of physically having to go to a counsellor as well as the time and cost it demands.
Do you need expat counselling?
As mentioned earlier, needing expat counselling doesn’t have to be the reason to start receiving it. When receiving expat counselling, it isn’t necessarily because you’re in an emotional crisis. It can just as well be to prepare yourself for the readjustment of the new environment.
Often when someone seeks any type of counselling, the damage is already done. But damage prevented is better than damage repaired. That’s why it is never a bad idea to get the lay of the land before you actually go to the land. Worst case, you will come out of it a little bit wiser and ready to tackle a new life.
Communication is key
One of the most obvious and common barriers in a new country is mastering communication. This isn’t the same as mastering the language, though. Interacting with a clique from London will differ vastly from interacting with a clique from rural Texas, even though they both speak the same language.
Getting to know customs and the right way to communicate is a key aspect to feeling welcomed and accepted in your new area. There is nothing worse than being on your best behaviour and having nothing but the best of intentions, just to find out that your new environment finds your best behaviour to be rude or generally unacceptable. Learning to communicate is more than just learning to say the words you want to say, and that is where an expat counsellor comes in handy.
Navigating a new country is a struggle
All roads lead to Rome unless you are heading in the wrong direction. Things will work differently in your newly adopted country. It might be small things, like not finding the food you like. It can also be big things, like learning an entirely new set of governmental bodies that looks vastly different from back home. Going down the wrong bureaucratic rabbit hole is never a nice experience and might cost you both time and money.
But as much as things may appear to be alien to you, you also need to remember that to the locals – you are the alien. You need to be prepared for some stares and gawks. Depending on the country it can be anything from what you wear and the way you speak to the colour of your hair.
These differences can also become apparent when locals find it hard to explain a process or phenomenon that is very obvious to them. It can result in frustration on both sides, which can be avoided with the right tools and mindset provided by an experienced professional.
Many expats accept certain opportunities abroad due to financial trouble. In order for them to best provide for their families, they need to live and work in another country and send money home.
This situation can be tough for a number of reasons. Not only will you be missing your family and everything they do as a family, but it can be confusing having a home where your heart is and having a home you need live in. An expat counsellor can help you navigate and process all of these complicated emotions.
Even new becomes old
Things have been exciting for a while, but it is now starting to wear off. The dreaded “normal life” has started to kick in. Routines, less variation, no surprises. And without your support network back home.
It’s important to remind oneself of the reasons why you chose to go that route in the first place. Is it experiencing different cultures? Not be stuck in the European winter? Financial pressures such as student loans and mortgages that need to get paid off? Whatever your reasons, an expat counsellor can be an excellent accountability buddy and teach you some tricks of the trade in terms of keeping your spirit up and finding the marvelous even in the mundane.
Three might be a crowd, but one can be pretty lonely
One of the toughest things you can experience in a new country is feeling like you’re not a part of it. Isolation is not exclusive to expats, but it is a common source of deteriorating mental health. It’s not as easy as when you were a kid and you just asked the other kids if they wanted to be your bestie.
Reaching out in the right way is a cultural handshake that you need to learn to do properly. Start by being open to learning how to reach out within the cultural boundaries and things will take off from there. Learn to manage expectations within this too, as new social interactions can be tricky, and comparing these new friendships with the already nurtured support network back home will be a futile and very disappointing exercise.
Reach out and enjoy it for what it is – making new friends and acquaintances. A professional expat counsellor can aid you throughout this process.
Have you ever come back from a holiday and felt so tired that you needed another? And that’s when you could go out and explore, partake in various activities and then go back to your hotel room and take a nap! Imagine trying to do all these tourist things while maintaining a 9-5 job.
Many get overwhelmed by the “so much to do, so little time” aspect of being an expat. It’s not a bad thing that you are open to new experiences but pacing oneself is a good tactic to spare the mind of overstimulation and unnecessary stress. Talk to an expat counsellor before things start piling up.
You will miss home at some point. The vast majority do. From the big stuff such as family and friends to small things such as your favourite condiment. Dealing with homesickness is tough and can feel incredibly taxing at times, but it doesn’t have to be tougher than necessary. Remembering the reason behind this change is an important first step, but that is often not enough. An online expat counsellor can teach you some coping techniques and help you process homesick feelings, making sure you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
The benefits of expat counselling
As an expat there can be a variety of reasons why you decide to reach out. And whether you’re still preparing for your new life abroad or you’ve already begun the new chapter of your life, one thing’s for sure: expat counselling can make a difference. There are numerous short-and-long-term benefits to receiving online expat counselling such as:
- Learning how to deal with this type of change in a constructive way.
- Managing expectations and responses with the help of a professional.
- Strengthening your skills in adapting to new surroundings.
- Accepting that life will be different in ways you couldn’t possibly know.
- Navigating cultural differences in a healthy and respectful way.
- Navigating language barriers.
- Helping you find your tribe in your new environment and start nurturing your support network abroad.
- Avoiding the stress that comes with facing new and overwhelming situations.
- Making the shift and merging into your new country without losing where you come from.
- Traveling and exploring without missing a single session since counselling is online.
- Don’t spend unnecessary money on traveling expenses etc. to go to an expat counsellor’s practice when there’s a cheaper alternative online with an experienced and highly qualified professional.
Do you see yourself experiencing any of the possible scenarios described above? Do you think it’s better to be precautionary and deal with an issue before it comes up? Don’t be shy, get a head start on your new life. Know what to expect and how to deal with it. As expat counsellors, we work in many different time zones and offer services around the world. Dealing with hard things doesn’t have to be hard with the right support. Reach out to us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), via our contact page here, or by completing the form below. We’ll be happy to answer any of your questions and start you off with a free consultation.