It happened. You finally got the courage to leave your country, and as far as you’re concerned, you’re off for a long time. You’ve signed an attractive job contract, you’re a self-made expat or maybe you didn’t have a choice and thought, that you can only find opportunities for a better life outside your homeland.
Nonetheless, you’ll explore ‘new world’ now and that’s so exciting!
Regardless, of how many times you moved to a new country, you’ll undergo a similar emotional cycle. Psychologists and experienced expats list around five stages of what we can go through when we eventually move to the new place. Remembering, that you are going with an open mind and willing to move!
Stage 1 – Excitement
Everything is new, so different to where you’ve been before (or at least it seems like it!), and maybe even mind-blowing. You notice little things that didn’t exist back in your homeland and get excited about them. You make new friends, bump into nice people who help you and you think: “Oh my God, they’re so friendly!” You love it here and plan to stay for a long, long time. Especially, if you have your family beside you, who obviously doesn’t mind to be there either.
This phase usually lasts from one to three months, maybe more, depending on the individual.
Why does this happen?
When you at your best – in your heart, your mind is open. Your thoughts are good and clear. You suffer no confusion – you know where you are and what you are there for. This pattern of thinking (if I can say so!) attracts good vibes. The world you see and the people within are nothing more than a reflection of your inner reality. In other words, when you have good thoughts, your energy is good.
Good energy = Good deals happen. Even if you face any problems, you overcome them with a smile on your face.
Now, let’s move on to…
Stage 2 – Hate
The excitement has gone and it’s not funny. You easily get irritated by many things the new place has on offer. Matters, which didn’t upset you before, now are rather annoying. The locals seem to be rude, you’re fed up with commuting, the food doesn’t taste so well anymore. You desperately shop for what you’ve been eating back home. It almost feels, like now you see ‘the reality’ of matters.
Needless to say, by feeling such, you may live your first bad experiences with the place. Maybe your mobile gets stolen or you feel discriminated. Try to shake off any of negative thoughts you may be getting. Otherwise, you end up in a vicious circle.
One thing to note here is, that some people get stuck at this stage forever.
Three stages you undergo when moving to a new country
They keep complaining about nearly everything (as nothing is so great like back in the home country!), but they do nothing to change the situation. In various cases, they simply can’t, because they feel tight by a job contract, a spouse who’s there for work, or any other reason, which in many ways, becomes an excuse to avoid change.
Stage 3 – Acceptance
After bumpy ‘hate’ phase comes the time for acceptance. Actually, it’s not so bad, and you can instantly bring out a few solid arguments around why you live here. Now you created a routine, established your friendships and you’re (at least) content with your lifestyle. You don’t plan on leaving, or even better – you’re back on loving the place in more sensible and deeper manner.
Some time ago I met a Western guy who lived in China. What he said, inspired me to write this post.
In our conversation, he mentioned the three phases of expat life in China; love-hate – deeper love. I’ve never been to China, but I lived in ten different countries myself and I can clearly see this happening in some of them.
These three stages are obviously a generic pattern. Some of us may start from Stage no 2 and hate the place at first, just to fall in love with it later. Some of us may actually not notice much because they came to the new country with their family or friends. Dealing with the new reality is much easier when you aren’t alone.
However, complaining and getting stuck in phase no 2 isn’t fair to anyone – those around you, the place itself and most importantly – it’s not fair for you.
If that’s the case, there are two choices; you accept the reality of things and appreciate the place for what it is, or you simply leave. If you can’t leave due to family commitments, you find another way. Explore other parts of the country, move around often to change the air and if you cannot afford travel, connect with local communities and offer your help.
As we know, nothing is better to wave away our worries than service to others. It makes us appreciate what we have and feel of use. And that can’t keep us feeling frustrated for too long!