Grasping new opportunities
Here are some ideas on how to make the most of where you’ve moved to. It’s easy to get caught in the idea that you can’t do what you used to do, can’t find where to participate in hobbies and activities you enjoyed before you moved. Perhaps the climate is too hot, or too cold. Maybe those activities aren’t available in your new location. Or perhaps safety is a concern, meaning you can’t go for long walks in your neighbourhood, for example.
Try to be grateful for the chance to explore somewhere new and take advantage of all the opportunities available to you in your new life overseas and embrace the life you live now.
If you’re in a different part of the world, there are places where it’s easier to visit from where you live right now. For example, living in the UK means Europe is on your doorstep whereas Asia is more expensive and takes longer to get to. But if you live in Australia then it would be in the reverse. When you move overseas, what travel gateways does it open up for you?
When we lived in Japan we used it as a base to explore some amazing countries we’d never have considered flying to from the UK. For example, Hawaii, China, Bali and Guam. When we moved to South Africa, Mauritius is right on our doorstep, so to speak!
So whilst you are living overseas, see if you can adopt an explorer mind-set. Even if you’re not into exploring, there are still many opportunities to visit places or landmarks you’re interested in. For example, I’m hugely interested in wildlife of all types, so South Africa is a dream come true for me. I get a thrill simply from the unusual birds who visit my tiny garden.
Don’t travel for the sake it, but make the effort to visit local examples of what you are interested in – architecture, art, palaces, and natural parks. If the country you are living in doesn’t offer your specialised interest, can you find something similar or expand your horizons? If you’re a nature fan living in a desert or urban sprawl, can you find botanicals interesting? Or geology, perhaps?
Many sources say that the top lifetime regret is ‘Not travelling more and seeing more of the world’. Now’s your chance!
2. Educate yourself
When I first got to Japan, I threw myself into lots of different courses and workshops, from metal work to ikebana. It was a great way to meet new friends but first and foremost, it was a way of keeping me fulfilled and busy by learning something new. I actually kept up the ikebana long enough to pass all my exams to become a qualified teacher of the art. Taking an interest in something different can be really fascinating as you learn new skills or attitudes (a specialised dance or way of singing etc) from your adopted country which you wouldn’t, or couldn’t necessarily learn in your native country.
Obviously if you don’t speak the language some courses are not an option but many other things are. When in a country where I don’t speak the language I often go to art museums because a picture doesn’t need words. When you move abroad, everything is going to be new and the key to adapting is to see it all as a learning experience.
3. Learn to let go
Being an opportunist means letting go of certain things. Maybe it’s letting go of the way you’ve done things before or saying goodbye to attitudes that don’t serve you in your new situation. Nobody knows you so there are no pre-set expectations. It’s a great opportunity to get rid of restricted attitudes from your previous culture which don’t really apply to your new culture.
It’s a chance to change old habits which may have helped you in a different life but don’t help you in this one, e.g., meal times in Spain are vastly different so you may have to change your eating habits (especially for kids) to fit in with your new lifestyle.
For me, one of the many things I had to let go of was a strong support system of female friends. I went to a place with a 9-hour time difference between us which meant my friends weren’t available when I wanted them to be. This meant I had to let go of depending on them to meet certain emotional needs as and when I wanted. Instead I was forced to work out a different way to get these needs met!
For me, when I felt that emotional pull to talk to them and it was the middle of the night for them and the middle of the afternoon for me, I would take myself out for a walk with the dog and find some peace and inner calm that way. Remember, it’s not always a direct correlation, replace like with like, i.e., replacing one set of friends with another. Find out what it was you needed from that thing or person in your previous life and find the thing or person in your new life which fulfils you on the same level.
Talking of friendships, you may find rather than go home to meet a friend or have them visit you why not meet them in a country half way between the two of you? It’s an opportunity to go somewhere new for both of you and create a beautiful shared memory for you to treasure forever.
Moving overseas is a chance for you to embrace opportunities and say “yes” to life. If you have the attitude of an opportunist then you’re always looking out for opportunities, you’re attuned to them, you can spot them a mile off and seize them with both hands. You’re seeing where you can travel to, what new things you can do and what interesting people you can meet.
Remember, life is full of opportunities if you know where to look.