1. Only making part of a community of intense and fleeting relationships
It is easier to identify and feel connected with like-minded people sharing the same context. It is no surprise that it is tempting to stay with and make part of the expat community. Of course, this is an appealing experience to mingle with open minded people in a cosmopolitan atmosphere. However, there is a price to pay which is the turnover. This community is, most often, constituted by people that are just passing by. After a while, you may legitimately end up demotivated to invest time in other temporary friendships. If you plan to settle down, it could be fair to choose your friends accordingly. We all need support, constancy, connection. We all want our efforts and investments to have long-lasting and fruitful payoff.
2. Precariousness and temporary thinking with no commitment and building
Knowing we probably won’t be here forever, we can reasonably think that it is better to not commit and build our lives on temporary easy-to-quit arrangements. The downfall of that strategy, is that we actually may end up staying for a very long time. The cost of that state of mind is that we won’t build anything out of this fear to be trapped in a limiting commitment like a relationship, a baby, a house, furniture. Hence, only because of our own precautions to not have strings attached, we still won’t feel at home after years of living in the same place. We probably have a dissatisfying shallow life filled with entertainment and addiction to compensate for a void. This could be a metaphor of life itself. We don’t know for how long, but we are here but anyway. It is still worthy to give it a full try and take that leap.
3. Criticizing and judging instead of striving to understand and appreciate; learn the local culture
Inevitably, some aspects of the local culture may be difficult to grasp or feel unpleasant, disconcerting, and off putting. Too noisy, kitsch, stiff, vulgar, introverted, uncivil, narrow minded, etc. An easy stance is to commiserate with other grumpy expats and take pleasure in criticizing all that we dislike. In doing so, we will feel less lonely but also reinforce that unhealthy useless bitterness. Take some time to understand deeply what it is you’re feeling at the first sight of this discomfort. Stop complaining and take your responsibility. Create the best answer to your needs and change some features of your context if necessary. Try to learn the local language and be patient. You will probably end up seeing all those awful sides of your expat experience as endearing.
4. Lose connection with our own family and roots, stop feeding it and so make it dissatisfying
Conversely it is possible you are so involved in your daily life as an expat that you lost touch with your home country. You stop feeding your friendships and calling your family. That makes your occasional visits back home even more frustrating. You feel disconnected with your supposed fellows. They have a different lifestyle and took a separate path. Be careful, any friendship and relationship needs some regular maintenance. The fact that we may have very different lifestyles and we don’t understand each other’s choices, doesn’t mean it will always be so and that no parts of the relationship are worthy of being kept. Don’t be radical. If you decide to cut the contact, make it willingly. Roots are important to feel grounded while facing a storm.
5. No productivity related to social life and wellbeing
Maybe you came here to join a boyfriend/girlfriend, for an appealing job opportunity or, just because you fell in love with the city. It is a mistake to rely only on those initial reasons to build your balance. You risk to wear out your relationship, to burn out working, feel lonely and empty. You are the only one responsible to make yourself feel at home. Not your partner, not your job, not the city. That requires a proactive stance. Explore the city, make friends, find an akin community, find exciting activities, build a life of your own apart from your job and sentimental life. You may surely feel shy, awkward, unskilled, lost and lonely at the beginning. Keep working on it progressively and that process will make you blossom.