Feeling like an outsider is an inevitable part of being an expat. For me, it often happens when I’m in a situation where I can’t communicate, and this has been occurring fairly frequently since I am a newbie with German language.
I try my best to listen and engage, but sometimes there is only so much you can do. At times like these, I occasionally feel like retreating to my bedroom, packing up my suitcase, and going home. It’s easy to think that home would solve all my problems. I could call up my best friends and forget about ever being the outsider.
Please don’t do this. All of us have this thought from time to time. And when this happens, take the time to really think about what going home would mean. We all leave home for a reason, whether it is for a job, a new experience, or a significant other. I left to not only be in the same place as my husband, but also because I wanted to live abroad. I was always dreaming about being in a new place when I was home.
The reality is that if I gave up right now and went home, I know I’d regret it. Six months from now, I’d be sitting around wondering why I didn’t try harder. I would go back to a world where I never felt challenged or exhilarated, or learned something new every day. I love the rush of living in a different country, but every high comes with a low.
So instead of going to extremes, let’s take a breath and think about how we can minimize our feelings of foreignness. For me, this is trying to learn the language so I can take part in conversations. I also want to join more communities, like this blog, where I can connect with new people.
I can admit now that I’m really writing this for me. I’m sharing it in hopes that if anyone else out there feels the same way, they can take comfort in knowing they aren’t alone.
Have you ever felt like an outsider as an expat? What did you do to overcome this feeling?