Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The dark side of the expat life

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the bright side of the expat life, the small, and not so small, details that make living abroad so appealing and rewarding. Now it's time to take a look at the not so bright side of the expat life, where things can get a bit rocky and low moments might cloud the rosy picture I painted you before. However, assuming that you have move abroad voluntarily and stayed there because you're satisfied with your expat life, it is usually true that the happy moments outnumber the sad ones. At least that has been my experience so far and that's probably the reason why my the following list is not so long.

You will feel lonely: Yes, it doesn't matter whether you're a social butterfly or a lonesome coyote, there will be times in which you'll feel as if you're totally on your own, in a foreign country where no one will ever understand what you're struggling with. You'll shut yourself away and hopelessly wish that you were at home.  Yes, it even happened to me, a naturally lonely person and used to being alone, as I spent many evenings and holiday periods home alone while my parents were working. Yes, it even happened to me, despite living with my boyfriend who is my best friend as well (I might be a bit biased towards this minus point after a tough school year that totally cut off my social life). Loneliness is a natural feeling and there's nothing wrong with the odd day or two of loneliness but a persistent feeling of loneliness and/or sadness should never be overlooked. Maybe it's time to evaluate the situation, find out what's not working for you and readjust your life plans.

You will always miss something: Even when you've packed all your belongings with you and even after realising that you don't really need that many material possessions you though of as necessary, there will always be something you'll miss. Maybe it's the sea breeze, maybe it's the scent of a certain flower which only grows in your home region or maybe it's simply your favourite dessert. And then, there's the people. I will always miss my little brother and the shallow conversations about fashion and clothes with my best friend. And of course there are moments as well. Births, anniversaries, weddings, ... you name it. Luckily, the world has somehow become smaller in the last decades thanks to the advances in aviation technology.

You will not always enjoy returning home: This sounds really harsh and doesn't need always be the case but it might happen. It could be that you're enjoying your new life so much that going back home seems just dull - probaby most exchange students have been there. It could be that going back home means facing the ghosts of the past, or you could find yourself suffering from reverse culture shock. Or maybe, just like me, you'll have a very selective allergy which only affects you while in your home place - true story, everytime I go back to Tenerife this allergy of mine really brings me down, I can't stop sneezing and my eyes cry so much that they hurt. There must be something in the air! But the good thing about this is that, usually, as the day to return home gets closer, you'll get more and more excited about going back home and forget about all those little inconveniences.

That was my little list for today. As you can see, I cannot list that many disadvantages and I always try to find a positive side to them. I'm curious about your point of view, what is it that you find annoying of being an expat. Is there something that you really can't stand? Let me know how you cope with the hard part of the expat life.


  1. ohhhh, ya sabía yo que había una parte negativa... yo tmb he experimentado la parte negativa cuando he estado fuera de mi casa; sobre todo el tema de la familia y los amigos.Pero lo último, no; yo soy de las que cuando vuelve se pasa con el subidón de haber estado fuera y estar feliz por haber regresado un montón de tiempo.Bsinss, Irene:)

  2. Great post! My parents chose to raise me and my sister abroad in Europe and when we returned to the US at the age of 17 I didnt enjoy being back in the USA. 10 years later I moved back to England with my husband and our kids and we could not be happier.

    Bonnie Rose | A Compass Rose

  3. I love that you presented both sides Irene! They're all so true. I've taken long trips and have felt that way. HAHAHAHA Great post doll!

  4. girl you are so spot on! i loved this and hope that it will help others that are wanting to move abroad. it's just as important to know the negative side of living abroad as it is the positive side. thanks so much for linking up with us!

  5. Definitely true, especially the third one-it does ring a bell. I avoided going home during my first eight years abroad and opted to explore another country instead. I made the mistake of comparing while avoiding the unresolved conflicts in my hometown as I realized that I have changed. Last year was an eye opener when I went home and looked at my country as a tourist as if I were visiting it for the first time while discovering new places I've never seen. This made me fall in love with my country for the first time. Great post. Have a great weekend, Irene. XX

  6. Definitely a true post. I have a girlfriend who lived abroad for a while & honestly when she came home in sunk her into a depression. She hated being back home, felt more at home where she had travelled to.

  7. Yes, going home is always different in reality than in my mind when I idealize it (especially on those evenings when I feel homesick). It's like it's not perfect anywhere but we can always find something good and something bad wherever we go!


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