17 July 2014

Not Just for Expats: To Thrive not Just Survive

I have realized, lately, that a lot of my worries about all that is to come is draining my joy and excitement! How do I recognize and prepare for certain difficulties but still look forward to all the good that is in store?

I stumbled upon an expat blog by Ariana with a guest post by Allison called, 10 Ways to Thrive as an Expat. It was really good.

She broke her thoughts down to 10 points, and expat or not ... this is well placed advice for anyone in new and challenging circumstances. Moving to a new city stateside, new church, just married with a new husband and in-laws, having a baby, new job, new school, empty-nesters ...  haven't we all felt out of place and wondered how to thrive (and not just survive)?

From Allison of The Sprouting Seed:
  1. Embrace the culture. Find things that you genuinely enjoy about the culture and incorporate that into your life. For me, I fell in love with the café culture. I learned to stop at a coffee shop and sip a latte for hours while with friends or reading a good book. Those people really knew how to relax!
  2. Embrace yourself.  You may feel like you’ve lost your identity, but remember—where you live does not define you. Maybe you find yourself to no longer be the person you were back home, but you don’t quite identify with the people you live next to. Enjoy yourself where you are. Give yourself permission to grow and evolve, to have feelings and to change. Don’t rely too much on your past and don’t be afraid of your future.
  3.  Get away.  Nothing helps make a home quite like getting away. Get out of your city or town, get some fresh air, and get some perspective. Whether it’s a day, weekend or extended trip, getting away helps you breathe. And then going home makes your expat home feel all the more home-y.
  4. Take a break.  Sometimes you need a break. Go get some outrageously expensive Oreos or peanut butter and watch a re-run of Friends. It’ll do you some good. Just make sure you save this for special moments and don’t do this on a daily basis. It’s really easy to escape and avoid reality if you do this too often (lesson learned).
  5. Be a learner.  Love learning and you will love your life. Let learning to do new things be a game. Go on walks with no end, explore your new place and take notes. Always keep your eyes and ears open to understand your neighbors, their culture and your city in new ways.
  6. Share.  Share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with family and friends. Talk with them and paint a picture of your world. Often friends and family back home don’t know what questions to ask you, so learn to initiate sharing. Send pictures, make videos and invite them to visit.
  7. Feel free to feel sad. You are away from your family, friends and home you always knew. Feel free to feel sad sometimes. It’s OK. Find a friend with whom you can process your emotions.
  8. Have a sense of humor.  Ok, so maybe you can’t figure out how to pay for a tin of lotion. That’s totally embarrassing, but remember to have a sense of humor. Laugh at your blunders, mistakes in speech, and cultural faux pas. You are essentially an adult baby, learning a totally new way of life. It’s OK to fall down and be a little silly.
  9. Make friends.  You can live in the most gorgeous place in the world, and yet without community it can seem dull and grey. Find friends and enjoy your adventure together. The friends I’ve made overseas are some of the best and dearest friends in my life.  Treasure them.
  10. Practice gratitude. A grateful heart can take you a long way.  It’s easy to find faults in a culture not your own. Instead, practice gratitude for all the wonderful things you see in people, town, culture, etc. Challenge yourself to find 10 new ways to be grateful each day. Make a list or keep a photo journal to hold yourself accountable. Occasionally, go back and read those lists to remind yourself why you are grateful.
**Even if you are not an expat, can you find yourself relating to this list? What has worked for you when you have entered into a new season and unfamiliar circumstances?

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, 
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

1 comment:

  1. I assume you are now in France and just beginning the process of making it home. This post and the tips it includes are so timely for our family too, since we just moved to New Zealand for the next three months. It's not as long as your adventure, and we aren't facing the language barrier like you, but there are still lots of adjustments. I hope your transition goes smoothly and all the children handle it well. May God's grace uphold you all!