Five ideas that make ex-pat life easier
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Obviously as a psychologist it's in my interests to say that talking therapies can help if you're struggling to cope with the changes of a migration. However there are a lot of things you can do instead or as well as that help too. Here are some tips that I've learnt over the last eight years that help keep me sane in the city.
Keep in regular contact with someone from home. Speaking to someone who gets where you're coming from will reaffirm and protect your identity leaving you brave enough to challenge yourself with the new.
Get in touch with other ex-pats. Exploring the new weird and wonderful culture together is more fun and having a laugh about the scary moments makes them seem less frightening. There are loads of ex-pat groups on Facebook. Many Spanish schools have social activities which are another great way of meeting people. I learnt at Porteñisima and it was an extremely positive experience both linguistically and socially https://portenisima.com.ar/. One woman even told me that she was crossing a road when she heard someone speaking English so she rushed over and asked the person if they wanted to get a coffee! They're still friends to this day so don't be shy!
Preempt stressful situations. Before you attempt something that you know could be difficult think about all the things that could go wrong. For example, whenever I have to do a "trámite" (an administrative task) I prepare myself mentally for it to take at least half a day and maybe not even work out the first time I try. That way I'm disappointed but not upset and angry. As a psychologist I'm always cautious about prescribing pessimism but it's important to be realistic. If you rely on the expectations you would have in your home country in certain situations in BA you'll feel very frustrated very quickly.
Connect your body and mind. It's no secret that keeping active is good for your mental health. Personally I like to bike around the city, you can plan a safe(ish) route using https://mapa.buenosaires.gob.ar/. I also enjoy yoga at Ananda Yoga in Colegiales https://centroanandayoga.com.ar/. It's not touristy, not expensive, and if you're feeling lazy the afternoon classes with all the local señoras are great fun.
Do nice things for yourself. If you've been travelling for a while you'll be used to trying to spend as little money as possible but the lack of luxury is compensated for with the excitement of a new place every few days. Ex-pat life isn't the same. You'll need to treat yourself every now and then otherwise the difficult aspects of life in Argentina will start to get you down. It doesn't need to be expensive, it can be as simple as going for a walk with an ice cream.