ey there, if you’re reading this and you’ve just moved to a new country as well, I hope you find some comfort in knowing that even though each process is unique, we all go through a somewhat similar experience when it comes to readapting. I think it’s part of human nature to resist change, and in my personal philosophy, I’m convinced that change is necessary to evolve, but it’s also painful.
For me, these changes began about 2 years ago. I met my (now) fiancé on a trip with my friends to Las Vegas. I’m Mexican, and he is British. At the time, I lived in my hometown with a perfectly established life; my lifelong childhood friends and my family around 24/7, my niece I absolutely adore nearby, a long list of clients at my marketing agency which I’d been working on for 5 years, my beloved gym, my long list of favorite restaurants on the weekends, etc. Maybe, as you’re reading this, you think I must have been bored out of my mind to move halfway across the world, but I wasn’t. I felt perfectly happy and established. I used to think I would meet a guy from the same town, get married, have children, and live in a house next to my parents, in the same neighborhood as all my friends. That was my idea of a fulfilled life.
But, it turns out, life had different plans for me.
Adapting to a new life in a different country
After we met we started traveling together. I guess I wasn’t thinking of where this was going until I fell in love. I was able to keep my life back home intact while traveling with him, so I had the best of both worlds for a little while. Then Covid-19 hit while I was on a trip in Finland experiencing the amazing Northern Lights. We ended up going to his hometown in the UK before lockdown and ended up staying there for four months. We loved living together so much that we decided to move to the next city he got sent to for work.
That’s how I ended up in The Netherlands. An amazing and beautiful place, which I actually hated at first. I guess it doesn’t matter how amazing the place you move to is – adjusting to a new place is just always hard. For about 3 months, I yearned for EVERYTHING about my hometown. I cried every time my sister sent a video of my niece getting bigger, and it just felt like I was missing out on so much. I missed my friends, my family, the warmth of my Mexican culture, speaking Spanish, the sun, the weather, the beach, and the list goes on and on. I was lost in this feeling so much that I wasn’t able to appreciate any of the good things that happened to me during this time. I felt like everyone else had their life together and was happy, and I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. I was lonely and just dreaming of waking up in my hometown next to my friends, my family, my job, etc.
I guess what I really want to share with you is a couple of things that helped me change the way I was seeing things and finally made me able to enjoy life here. Not that I’m feeling completely established yet or that I’ve got it all figured out, but at least I’m experiencing it in a much more positive mindset.
A positive mindset
First of all, I realized what I was feeling was completely normal and everyone goes through it. At first, I was ashamed of feeling so depressed and out of place, but I learned that talking about it helped so much because I felt so understood by the people around me. Because of this, I was able to give myself some credit and reminded myself that I was doing great.
Secondly, I realized my mind was in my hometown the whole time because I spent too much time thinking about all the plans and activities my friends and family were doing without me, but I never focused on making plans to look forward to here. So, I began by booking a reservation at a restaurant that looked amazing, making after-work plans with my colleagues, booking a massage… I just did my best to focus on the new plans I was making.
And thirdly, I started practicing gratitude – with little things at first, such as having enough time every morning to practice yoga and drink coffee, or to be able to walk my dog 4 times a day because the weather is not too hot as it would be back home. I felt grateful for the opportunity to have new experiences next to the person I love.
One of the biggest blessings was when I started working with Peekabond, because it marked a whole new era for me. I was able to connect with people who have similar values and who are warm and understanding. It was also the beginning of a deeper, more satisfying relationship with my niece and my sister, for which I’m eternally grateful. Peekabond gave me the inspiration to make our communication more regular, I could tell she felt very excited when she was making a reply video for “tía Gaby” (auntie Gaby) and I was also eager to wake up and see at what she had come up with while I was sleeping (because of the time difference). These are all things I thank life for every day.
If life has taught me anything, it is that you never know what comes next. We can make all the plans in the world but nothing is certain. I can either remember this time of my life as a difficult and sad one or as the time when I felt fully alive.
We always have a choice. If you’re not in a good place right now, don’t worry. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back, becoming an expat is extremely BRAVE, and no matter where you are in your process right now, you’re doing great!
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