8. Jun, 2017

Making Friends and overcoming loneliness whilst living abroad by NickiAllman

Making Friends and overcoming loneliness whilst living abroad by NickiAllman 

 Living overseas is an exciting opportunity but it comes with great challenges as well as amazing adventures. It can also be a lonely experience as well as being a time of building new friendships. The excitement comes when we take the decision to move to a new country, it fills us with a sense of adventure but can also be an incredibly daunting feeling. As many know already, moving on can be incredibly sad with leaving somewhere we have called home for however long or short a period of time. The saying goodbye to people we have called our friends, saying goodbye to family members, leaving a settled home, packing to move can be stressful and worrying. It can fill us with a sense of dread over the next steps leaving us with a lot of unanswered questions: 

 How will we make new friends? 

Will our children settle? Will they make new friends easily? 

What about new schooling? 

What about work (if we are moving for a job) and how will I settle? 

What about our new home, what will it be like? 

What things do we need to take? What do we need to leave? 

How will we ship our pets to our new country? 

Will our shipping arrive? (Twice now this has been a huge source of worry as both times for a period of time our shipping disappeared but thankfully both times turned up, and yes we did use reputable companies!) 

 There is nothing worse than spending time worrying about what ifs and what could go wrong. These things can fill our minds with worry and fear about the unknown. But there are many sources that we can turn to which will help us out. What are the things we can do to help settle into a new country and help that feeling of being in a crowd but completely by ourselves? 

1) Find online groups such as Expat Women’s forum to be put in touch with those already living in the country we are moving to. These types of forum can also be a great source of guidance for what to do and when to do things. They can answer questions such as what areas can be like to live in, what schools are like, how easy/hard it is to get into a school, what transport is like, what social activities go on and where, and provide useful ideas for tourist information, after all we do want to know about where we are living! 

 For Qatar Join the group on the link below

https://www.facebook.com/groups/556199204481820/

 

2) Use social media sites such as FaceBook and Twitter to get in touch with people in similar situations to ourselves. There are many groups on FaceBook alone dedicated to Qatar and Doha and these can be a great source of help and support for many. There are groups dedicated to buying and selling, social groups, sporting groups etc… It is worth getting a FaceBook account just to become a member of these as these will direct us to many good things. 

3) Another good source of information can be the very people we are living with. Many overseas nationals have lived abroad for some time. It often surprises me how small a world it actually is. A chance conversation recently highlighted to me how somebody from my home country (themselves an overseas national for many years) knew somebody who had recently moved to a country I had just moved from. Asking questions to people we converse with can help us find out some things about where we are moving to. Do be aware though that if it is some time since they or their friends lived there then things may have moved on and changed a lot. 

4) Chatting to work colleagues if we are new will also help; some will be in the same boat as us. It may be that for a time we help each other out by introducing each other to different people.  Also work colleagues who have been around a while can help us as they will know about the place we have just moved to. 

5) This is where my life has changed somewhat. As a mum chatting to other mums meant I got to know people quite quickly especially when our children played together or we invited our children’s new friends to play dates. This made settling in much easier. It is much trickier when children get older. My daughter is now 18 so meeting mums at school to pick them up doesn’t happen so it is about being inventive with social aspects to get to know other mums. 

6) Helping at animal shelters or volunteering at other social activities can be a great source of finding company and getting to know people. This can then lead to friendships helping to ease any sense of loneliness.  

6) Walking dogs can often lead to chance meetings. Who can resist a cute pooch? However, it is not advisable to go out and adopt or purchase one to meet people unless it was already in the plans for living it a country or something that has been thought about. 

This is not an exhaustive list and I am sure can be added to. It is more difficult if we work as managing time can be much trickier. The key point is to find the courage to go out and make friends as this will ease a sense of loneliness and isolation.