- Alice Rossetter
I'm living the dream but...
Updated: Jul 12, 2019
...I'm lonely. I miss my family and friends. What am I doing with my life?
While you may feel like you're the only one who isn't having a great time these feelings are extremely common among ex-pats and immigrants. Choosing to live in a different culture brings with it unique challenges that most people just aren't prepared to cope with. In fact, research shows that the difficulty of adapting to a new culture can even pose a threat to the "self" or identity.
According to psychological studies it seems that the further away from home we migrate the more difficult it is to adapt. This could be because the cultural difference is less marked in countries that are close to one another geographically or it could be because it's easier go home to visit family and friends if there are fewer miles in between.
Does it get better? Yes and no. It is thought that the initial adaptation process takes around two years although obviously this varies from person to person. However, investigation shows that even after ten years the same effects on the "self" or identity are detectable.
Having been an ex-pat since 2011 I can say that the challenges of cultural adaptation change over time but they don't go away. Now I have a much deeper understanding of the culture than I had when I first arrived but now and again a new challenge comes along and I feel like I arrived a week ago all over again! The important thing to remember is that you're not alone. It's hard. So take a deep breath be compassionate with yourself.