Living Abroad: lovely yet lonely.

Living abroad is amazing. It’s life changing. You get to experience a new culture, learn a new language, meet new people. You do things that you wouldn’t typically do. You start living this new, magical and exhilarating life. It truly is incredible.

 

 

I love living abroad. I realize how lucky that I am to have the experiences and opportunities that I have had in the last few years, getting to live both in Spain and in Colombia.
But what people don’t often discuss is the fact that living abroad can be so incredibly lonely. Because while you are surrounded by these new and incredible things, at the same time these new incredible things are not what you’re used to. You have to learn to make friends (in another language), you have to learn to do common and every day things (in a new country, in a new language)… and while yes it is exhilarating, sometimes it’s just plain exhausting. You’re far away from family and friends, and if you’re a trailing partner (like I am this time), you can spend a lot of time alone while your significant other is at work, wondering what on earth you’re doing with your life besides sitting in your apartment with no one for company. It’s rough.

 

Look, living abroad is not an easy choice. (If you followed along with my blog posts, you’ve seen how much I struggled with actually taking the leap.. admittedly, this time was a bit harder) From the outside it looks exotic and glamorous, traveling all the time and living in a foreign place, but the reality is, it can get incredibly lonely. It can be frustrating. It takes a while to build up a new life in a new place, to find new friends and to find a sense of purpose, to actually feel like you belong. And that’s exactly what I’m struggling with right now.

 

I have my boyfriend and his friends and his family… but at the end of the day what it comes down to is that sometimes I simply just feel like it’s his life, and I somehow feel like just a guest, like I’m just here places inside his life. That these people are all his friends, his family, his life .. and I just don’t feel quite like I belong yet. Don’t get me wrong, everyone is extremely warm, welcoming and kind. They do everything to make me feel like I belong, and they do… but in the end, I just don’t entirely feel it.

 

I don’t yet have any friends of my own. We’re still living with his parents, so I don’t quite feel like I have any space of my own. I don’t yet have a job, so my days feel long and lacking structure. I feel extremely lonely. I don’t have that feeling like I quite belong.

 

I know this takes time, that in time I will find my place here. That I will make my own friends, make my own memories, my own life. That me and my boyfriend will soon get our own place, and i will feel like I have space of my own. In time this place will feel like home, but as for now it doesn’t quite feel like it yet. I need time and patience, but right now it’s a bit of a struggle.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I am happy here… I am so so happy to be with my boyfriend, and to be getting to experience this new city, new country, new culture. I feel lonely right now, but I wouldn’t change my decision to move here, of that I am certain.

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42 thoughts on “Living Abroad: lovely yet lonely.

  1. I was actually just thinking about this last night. I think a lot of people don’t understand that living abroad does get pretty lonely and even if you know the language it’s still hard to make friends and you can still feel like an outsider. I’m currently battling with this even though I’ve made friends I still feel like I’m only filling temporary space in everyone else life.

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  2. I say this every time but … please stop reading my mind. Traveling is amazing, it’s a new adventure, it’s marvelous, and I love it so. But at the same time I hate it. I hate being so far away from friends and family who don’t even get what I’m doing but at least I know them. It’s so exhausting and though I don’t know exactly what you mean, I know where you’re coming from. Thanks for this post, I don’t feel so crazy now. 😉

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  3. I so get you! I’ve moved 3 times in my adult life and each beginning was very hard. It’ll get better. Join a fitness place or a language café, it’ll help. Also, I usually put an effort into getting to know my neighbours by knocking on their door with pancakes or pie, it doesn’t necessarily lead to friendship, but at least you get invited for tea! 😉 Good luck!

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  4. Your message definitely hit a sore spot for me (in a good way) as I’m in your shoes! I moved to Italy 1 year ago and can say that you’re completely right – it takes time. A year later, I’m still not exactly where I’d like to be (for example, I have the job, the work “friends”, the boyfriend, and my brother here) but I’m still missing having a deep friend connection like anything I had in the US. The language is so much easier for me now, but I still have difficulties. So Friday nights after work when my boyfriend is with his friends, the loneliness comes out of nowhere and hits hard. It used to really knock me down – but I’ve learned slowly to enjoy the time with myself, to get to know myself. I’ve also learned to accept that missing my friends and family isn’t something that disappears, but instead you learn to cope with…I think the best thing I ever did for myself was just always allowed myself to feel what I needed to, but also knowing when to pick myself up and say that’s enough feeling bad for today. You end up doing so many things by yourself – I understand it can be beautiful and also so damn boring. I can promise that it DOES get better, you will likely feel extremes of emotion, and it will require so much effort from you constantly (that exhausting feeling you already know!). But, if you truly made the right decision for yourself, you’ll start to see that slowly but surely you start to feel more like you belong to the place you belong to and going back to see your family is wonderful – but not your true “home”. Be gentle on yourself – not everyone can do what we’ve done. It takes so much strength and bravery, make sure you give yourself the love and care you deserve from YOU.

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  5. When I was very young, my parents moved abroad for work. They quickly made lots of friends within the ‘expatriate’ community over there. I grew up in that country so my entire life was there, but I did come back frequently every summer. So when we moved back permanently when I was sixteen (seven years ago) I thought it would be a doddle to renew life here. It wasn’t, even though this is my home country. It’s really hard, even seven years on, to get some continuity. But you know, it’s definitely manageable, and slowly but surely you will learn to be part of it all! Mingling with others in a class or a part time job or something will definitely help! 🙂 Hang in there. All the best xx

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  6. I feel exactly the same way, I haven’t had enough time or money to learn the language to a degree that means I can confidently try and converse with local people so making friends has been really tough for me but I’ve still throughly enjoyed a lot of aspects of this experience so far.

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  7. You are not alone! There are plenty of people like us who chose to live abroad because of a partner. I have been living this lifestyle for the last three years and it gets really tough some times (I’m today also in a low mood). When it comes to finding your space, it will happen in the right moment.
    Reading other people’s comments you can easily see how impacting this post was. 😁

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  8. I also a few years back took a big step to move away from friends and family and go off on my own, and it was rough, but it helps you find yourself and who you are. I wouldn’t change it for the world. So much love 💕

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  9. So much this!!! I adore living abroad and honestly have no intentions of going back home full time but it is so so lonely. I don’t have a boyfriend and a lot of my friends are of the international variety so they leave often. I’m still trying to find a balance but it comes with the territory of being a perpetual nomad! Great post!

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  10. I’ve never had the experience of being a true nomad, in the sense of the word, but I can empathise with the feeling of purposelessness you described. I hope that you’ll be able to find other friends and find a way to make your time abroad more fulfilling! 🙂

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  11. This is just great. I have been living abroad in diffrent countries for almost 8 years now and this feeling is always comming back to me. Now I have found my purpose at the place where I live at the moment. ( I saw that someone described this as the feeling of purposelessness, and I think that it is eally spot on). In about 6 months I will break up from a place where I for the first times in many years feel that I have a structure and routine that is good for me, even if I have very few friend here and a boyfriend in another county. For the first time since I left high school I have been able to feel grounded for real in a place and just not this temporary high from living a at a new place. In 6 months I will go travelling with my boyfriend for 1 year and then we will move to his country and I know that I will experience the same feelings and anxiety (again) as you do at the moment. But I guess that one day that shall pass too. But it is like you forget how hard it is to move to another place and country and start all over even if you have done it several times before. Hopefully I will be more prepared this time. But all transitions comes with a hard period, when the new have become the daily day but still without routine. But I guess that if it ment to be it will also pass.

    Wish you the best!

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  12. Very interesting post and beautiful photos! I am sure it is quite exciting to be experiencing new places, people and culture but I can see where you are coming from by saying you feel a sense of loneliness. It is great to be with the one you love but can be hard when you feel a lack of independence and self-structure. I hope you are able to adapt sooner than later and meet some great friends you can call your own =) Best of luck !

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  13. It definitely is very hard, I agree! But at the same time so rewarding and an experience only some people understand because living abroad is not for everyone. Were you able to find work yet? If not, have you thought about english teaching? I am doing that currently in Italy and has been such a great experience. I would definitely recommend it.
    http://www.lacasabloga.com

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    1. As hard as it is, it’s something I would never give up or change! I’ve actually been living abroad for about 2 and a half years now, but the past 2 were in Spain. Actually in Spain I loved it… however I just finished a masters degree (i did it in Spain) and currently I’m looking to put that to use here in Colombia. If I can’t find job I’m definitely going to look into teaching English again 🙂 thanks for checking out my post .. I can’t wait to check out your adventures!

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      1. What brought you from Spain to Colombia? I have never visited South America but would love to sometime. Good luck with your job search & hope things look are looking better for you as far as living abroad. Xo.

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      2. In Spain I was doing a masters which ended and my visa expired so I couldn’t stay there anymore… but the main thing that brought me here to Colombia was my Colombian boyfriend who I actually met in Spain. I decided to move here to be with him and start a new adventure. Things are still a bit difficult but what I do know is in time things will improve … thanks for the support xo!

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  14. I’ve struggled with this a lot too. Life doesn’t stop when you leave, and I always get nervous I’ll miss out on important things if I’m gone too long. And then I usually leave anyways, have a fantastic time and forget I was worried about it in the first place. It’s hard though still, I do miss a lot of my loved ones at home and wish I could take them with me.

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    1. Exactly, fomo is a real thing… sometimes it’s hard to grasp that while your life continues on the same thing is happening back home. But the thing is we’re getting to experience these incredible experiences… experiences that I wouldn’t change for anything!

      thanks for checking out my post 🙂

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  15. My first trip to Europe was about 6 months after my father passed away…I had found a great price for a ticket in August and decided that I’d be ready to get away for a while in about 6 months so I booked a trip to Europe in February on my own. Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Madeira, Germany and back to France…5 weeks. But I came back with a new feeling and outlook on my father’s passing. Since then I’ve been back a number of times….5 weeks with my twin sister and her husband for our 40th birthday , a trip to Paris and 7 trips to Russia where I eventually met my wife of 12 years now. We talk about a move to Paris most likely. The next trip is always the best.

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  16. Hope you find an ex-pat or 2 to have coffee/go for a jog/bike ride or join a fitness / art class. Do consider volunteer work. I can appreciate how awkward it might be being in his parents’ home.

    It does get abit harder/more complex to make close friends as one gets older because we become abit more particular /have different values /lifestyles. For women who don’t have children, it can create an awkward divide when trying to make friends who already have (younger) children.

    I’ve moved across Canada (it’s 8,000 km. wide in length) and lived in 3 different regions. Right now my birth family and their children are 4,000 km. east of me in another part of Canada. Same for some very close friends.

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