We have arrived. After months of discussing, looking, planning, packing and anticipating our move, we are finally here..
So what now? The prospect of settling into a new country that seemed so exciting months ago now seems overwhelming and insurmountable. Everything is new. Nothing is set up. Decisions about details great and small — from buying a car to choosing which shelf we should use for the plates –rattle around in our heads.
And behind those decisions lie the bigger questions – will the kids like their new school?, will this job be a good one?, will I make friends?, why are we doing this?, will this be ok?
So how does one start building a life in a new country? Where do you begin when everything needs doing and fear and worry are nipping at your heels?
While the best way differs for everyone, my instinct now (during our third move in the past 10 years) is to start small and slow. When I read stories about expats that don’t leave their house for the first 3 weeks I think, “Yeah, so? What’s wrong with that?” Venture out slowly if you need to or jump in and get out and explore. There is no right way to do this.
We are like swimmers on the beach that watch the big waves approaching with anticipation, only to get tossed around, washing machine style. It takes some time to get up, wipe the salt water out of our eyes, check to make sure we are in one piece and try to walk gracefully up the beach again.
Don’t take the basic needs for granted. Sleep, eat, reflect, give it time if possible. Celebrate each small triumph – I figured out how to pump gas!, how to make a phone call!, where to get a good coffee!
Try to keep the faith. There will be days when this all feels like a huge mistake. When you are lonely and wonder if you will ever feel connected, when your kids tell you that you ruined their lives. But those are feelings, not necessarily facts. As you build your new life, piece by piece remember that in this big big world, there are others like you, putting their lives together in new places. We are a global community of expats and can support one another.
So what about you? How do you feel when you first move to a new place? What helps in your transition? How do you cope when you are feeling lost?
I would love to hear from you.