Friday, 22 August 2014

Expat Revelations: Seeking comfort in a Strange Land

I managed to miss the deadline for the second post in Holly's Expat Revelations linkup, mostly because, far from seeking comfort in a strange land, this week I have been in a very familiar land and between catching up with family and friends and four glorious internet-free days in the Highlands, I'm a bit behind on everything.

After seven years of living in France, I tend not to experience homesickness much (and ironically, when I do, it's usually when I'm back in Scotland and am reminded of what I'm missing!) but there was certainly a period which I haven't blogged about much when I went through the full range of loneliness, frustration and regret that can arise when you move to a place where you know absolutely nobody and a job that isn't quite what you hoped would be and have to deal with the horrors of the French administration to boot. Nowadays, my need for comfort tends to result more from the trials of commuting and the trials of dealing with the odd stereotypically rude Parisian but a lot of the solutions are the same:

Appreciate what's wonderful about the country you live in: in my case, this can mean eating a delicious French treat, strolling around Paris with my camera or planning a trip to somewhere beautiful.

Talk to a native: a sympathetic local can help you understand a complicated administrative procedure, explain the logic behind systems and events that have you baffled and even just serve as a useful reminder that while there might be better ways of doing certain things, most of the sixty-million people who live in your adopted country seem to be getting on just fine.

Read blogs: as well as being a place to share frustrations, blogs can be a fantastic source of inspiration and a reminder of all the positive aspects of living abroad. I also find that writing mine makes me seek out what's positive and interesting in my life and makes me focus on that. Blogs also help by confirming that  a) other people have made this life choice and survived and even enjoyed the experience, and b) you are not insane for doing the same thing.

"Therapy": this is what my expat friends and I call meeting up for wine and a moan. In the middle of a tough week, it gives us something to look forward to, and by the end of the first glass, we've usually finished whining!


  1. I like your "therapy". Sometime, nothing beats being with people who understand what you are going through. I don't only hang out with expats but yes, they get it while locals may be offended when you pick on your adopting country.

  2. I think expat bloggers are very open minded about the problems/worries/successes of other expats! I am sorry you missed the deadline :( :( I will tweet it anyway ;)

  3. I find that the longer you live somewhere, the less you tend to think about the positive sides, as they become "normal" rather than "special". Being in Milan, I have to constantly remind myself that many people I know back in the UK would give their right arm to have access to fab Italian food everyday, and be a stone's throw from lakes, mountains, the med and renaissance cities..... It's easy to concentrate on the traffic, pollution and long working days and forget about the rest!

  4. I’m like you—I don’t get terribly homesick when I’m abroad, but when I go home to the States I feel it.

    I also echo your solutions—walking along the Seine, eating an éclair, and taking a day trip are what I do to bring myself back to a state of appreciation from feeling down.