Moving abroad! Always an exciting time. New adventures beckon, new languages, food and culture. But there’s also the downside. Apprehension, incomprehension, sickness and fatigue. There’s no doubt that living in another country is an enriching experience but it’s also difficult. There are new foods to try, but you also miss your home cooking. There’s new languages to master, but some days this seems a gargantuan task. Then there’s the sickness, tummy bugs and homesickness mingle to become exhausting and depressing. Some days you feel excited and motivated, eager to learn and meet new people. Other days you feel like diving down under the duvet and wishing for a friend, a cup of tea or just a TV programme that you can enjoy and understand.
It’s a rollercoaster. So much to do, a new house to settle into and purchases to be made – all the little things that make such a difference, towels, bins, a peg bag. There’s bigger purchases too, furniture, a washing machine and a million little jobs that need to be done like fixing a leaky shower, drawers that won’t open or cupboards that won’t stay shut. Of course there’s the wildlife to watch and the bugs to get rid of. Some kind of routine needs to begin; school, work, shopping, cooking, social engagements. Going to the market is both wonderfully exotic and exhausting. Getting used to new currency and exchange rates. Lots of advantages, like staff to help out but lots of irritations too, like unbelievable traffic, ancient systems built on a cash economy (endless trips to the cashpoint). It can be overwhelming and disorientating.
It’s called Culture Shock for a reason. The first time I moved abroad I experienced this fully; I seemed to lose all sense of humour for a good length of time and wondered what had happened to me. Now I feel a bit more sanguine, perhaps down to experience, or my age. It’s very hard for the children though. They take out all their frustrations on their new school which is now the most evil place on earth. It’s tempting to move them to another option but as I keep reminding them, it’s not the school’s fault. As a parent you can’t help wondering though, did I make the right choice?
All of this reminds me of starting my business, and the journey which continues. I’ve had to learn so much and every time I seem to overcome one obstacle, another appears on the horizon. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, purchased things I thought essential, only to abandon them weeks later when I realise it’s too complex or not relevant to me. Learning new software programmes and apps, supposedly to automate your business, is like learning another language. I feel a need to get advice but one expert says this, another says that. Some days I leap out of bed knowing exactly what I have to do, another day my inner critic tells me it’s all useless anyway, it’s been done before, by others, by betters. It’s a slog. I question myself daily, have I made the right choice? I know I must go out into the world, not just the geographical place I find myself, but also in my business. I can’t hide behind the keyboard or busyness, I need to make connections. My perspective feels skewed, can this be right? Where everything at home seemed so easy (idealsing my former home) everything here feels like climbing a mountain. And that comes with a sense of dread and anticipation.
I always urge my clients to take small steps. Taking action, however tiny, which moves you towards your goal, is one way to shake off the gloom – even if it’s just getting off the sofa or having a shower. Practising gratitude is another. Remind yourself of the good stuff, however small; I have a nice bed, I can make coffee how I like it, I AM making progress, maybe less today but there will be other days. As I sit here writing this I look up and see another chameleon on the shrub right by the veranda. Unbelievable! We wished for one in our garden but two seems like a lucky bonus. I am writing a blog for my website, so that is an achievement. I think back to my former home and realise I would not be experiencing any of this back there, most likely I’d find some job around the house (cleaning, organising my knicker drawer?) and there would most certainly NOT be chameleons in my garden. Maybe this is all I will achieve today and that is OK. To celebrate I will go and make myself another coffee.