Health Mental health

Expat blues

When you first know that you’re gonna be an expat, you may have some mixed feelings. On the one hand, the thrill of the adventure, a new country, a different culture. You’re on a path to actually get out of your comfort zone as so many signals in our culture urge you to and that’s when the expat blues may hit you.

On the other hand, you may have heard stories about expats having trouble to fit in their adoptive country. Of course, migrating to a new country can be a big shock, it’s a new culture, new food, new ways of handling your daily life. Going to the doctor is not the same, you won’t find the same things in supermarkets, the language, weather, vibe of the country, everything can radically shift from what you’re used to. It’s like being born again.

We, Juliette and Amaury, have had experiences in several countries, like Qatar, England and France when Juliette first came to the country and we’re gonna be the first to acknowledge that … it’s true. It can be so hard to find your place. You never know what to expect, what to do and how to react. Especially in Qatar, it was a true culture shock for me.

What to do to prevent it

Before you leave

  • Get to know the culture (movies, books, politics, radio, newspaper
  • Try to find your place, at least narrow it down (link housing)
  • Check with your company if you’re being transferred, what they can do to help
  • List the admin procedure you’ll need to do (link to the 30 days articles) and create a step program (link)
  • Learn the language (link to learning french)
  • Friend everyone you know in the city you’re gonna go, to get out of your place.

Once you’re in the country

  • Sleep
  • Exercise (link sport, and running)
  • Don’t abuse alcohol
  • Join groups to connect (link to social events)
  • Talk with measure to your friends and family back home (it’s better to not talk everyday, but do things, discover the city, do things in order to have a lot to talk about)
  • Explore the town
  • Minimise social media
  • Remind yourself why you’re there
  • Cook the meals you like

Recognise the symptoms

  • Lack of motivation and productivity
  • Poor sleeping schedule and exhaustion
  • Bad diet and upset stomach
  • Mood swings and emotional outbursts
  • Sudden social anxiety and withdrawal
  • Changes in energy levels

Deal with the symptoms of

expat blues

On your own

  • Let people around you know they can help
  • Ask for advice to your expats connections, to your colleagues

Seeking the help of a professional

  • Seek professional help