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3 Ways To Finding A Sense of Community When Moving Abroad

Written by: Veerle Beelen, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Are you craving more connection and a sense of community in your life abroad?


Whether you are an expat trying to adjust in a new country, a digital nomad who wants to feel more settled on the road or someone who is planning their move abroad but is worried about not making any new friends. This article is for you!

Connection is one of our basic human needs and during the pandemic, while spending lots of time in lockdown and away from others, this has particularly been challenging. For expats there has been an added challenge of being away from their usual support system of family and friends at home and not being able to build a new social network abroad.


Besides that, there are plenty of other reasons why loneliness can kick in when moving abroad. For example language barriers that make you feel like an outsider in the local community, or feeling stuck and unfulfilled with your life, wondering whether this expatriate lifestyle is meant for you.


The good news is that there are ways to overcome these feelings and really create your dream life abroad in which you feel connected and at home.


In this article, I will share 3 ways on how you can find this sense of community, based on my own expat experiences and by working with my clients in one-on-one coaching sessions. We are all unique and have our own stories, so I would like to invite you to read through my suggestions and find the ways that work best for you.


Let’s dive right in:


1. Connect with a community online

As a first step, finding a community online can be a great way to connect with others and eventually create your community offline. Besides that, it can be an easier way to find support from others who may be going through a similar experience.

Let me give you some examples:

  • Connect with other expats who have moved to the same city/country and are also interested to meet new people (find this on social media, like Facebook groups)

  • Search for meet up events, organised by locals or by expats in your new city

  • Join a mastermind or support group of likeminded individuals with weekly video calls and online community events

There are plenty of opportunities to meet others online who are on the same journey. This not only helps you to connect with others but it can also give you the sense that you are not alone in this. Once you realise that it is very normal to feel lonely in your new life abroad and that many others feel the same, you will feel more supported and understood. This can lead to being more open towards finding ways to overcome this feeling, instead of staying stuck in your own bubble. As I previously mentioned, there a ways to overcome this feeling and this can be your first step to make that happen.


In addition, most of the examples that I have shared will eventually lead to meeting people offline and that leads to my next point.


2. Connect with a community offline

When you feel that there is a barrier between you and the local community, you are more likely to miss the sense of connection in your new country. Creating that connection is not always an easy step to take, especially when you have to overcome language or cultural obstacles, or when you feel insecure about meeting strangers. However, there are plenty of ways to still create this connection.


Let me share some suggestions with you, which have worked for me and my clients, to find a community offline:

  • Sign up for a language course, if the language barrier of your new country is something you are struggling with. This will give you the opportunity to meet both expats and locals, plus you will learn more about the country and culture as well.

  • Find a hobby, sport or other activity that you are interested in, and perhaps used to do before you moved abroad. If you do something that you are familiar with and which feels less out of your comfort zone, you will feel braver and you are more likely to bond with like-minded people who share the same interests.

  • Start volunteering at a place in your neighbourhood. Not only does this give you the opportunity to meet new people, but contributing and serving others also adds to connectedness to the local community.

  • Visit places in your neighbourhood regularly, like the local coffee shop or bakery. Once you start visiting a place more often, people will start to notice you and this recognition can enhance your sense of belonging. These small encounters and acquaintances can bring familiarity and feel uplifting as well.

3. Connect with yourself

I have saved the best for last, because all the previous ways I have just shared will only make sense once you start focusing on yourself first. If you want to have a successful live abroad in which you feel connected and at home, your mindset is crucial.


When it comes to finding a sense of community, here are a few tips for you on how you can use your mindset in your favour and first of all connect with yourself before anything else:

  • Be your most authentic self. If you want to create deep connections with others, you have to show up as your genuine self. You may feel like you have to adjust yourself all the time because of all the changes you have been through and pull up different personas to ‘fit in’ and belong. However, eventually you will only create true connection if you show up as yourself, so that you attract people who are truly getting to know you for who you are.

  • Have patience. There is no need to rush into making new friends. If you want to create a long-lasting sense of community, you want to take your time to figure out who you are in your new surroundings and who you want to spend your time with. Friendship and feeling part of a new community does take time. Allow yourself that time, trust in the process and honour yourself for the exciting journey that you are on.

  • Create opportunities. If you are not taking any action towards meeting others and putting yourself out there to connect with strangers, not much change will happen. It is up to you to create the opportunities. Whether you commit yourself to trying any one the suggestions I have shared previously or do something else, it will be your choice. Prioritise the possibilities of connections and make an effort to expand your social network.


Lastly, I want to add that wherever you go, make sure to feel comfortable in your own company first. If you do not allow to know yourself first, finding connections with others will be much more challenging, especially when moving countries. Focus on all aspects of your wellbeing (mental, social, emotional, physical) so that you feel aligned and grounded.


If you do not take care of this fundamental part and first of all create the best relationship with yourself, you will feel lonely even when you are not alone. If you really want to find a sense of community abroad, start with yourself and expand from there.


In this article, I have shared how you can find a sense of community in 3 ways. By connecting with a community online and offline, but most of all connecting with yourself first.


Would you like personalised support to create your dream life abroad and feel connected and at home wherever you are? I would like to invite you to schedule a free Discovery Session. During this session, we will find out where you are at, where you want to be, why you are not getting there and how I can help you with that.


For more info, follow me on Facebook, Instagram and visit my website! Read more from Veerle!

 

Veerle Beelen, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Veerle Beelen is an Internationally recognized Certified Travel Coach. As a Travel Coach, she empowers travelers to have transformative travel experiences and focus on their “Travel Mindset.” Her goal is to help expats, and other travelers transform their personal lives and careers through their travel experiences, guide them through the preparation process of moving abroad and coach them through the transition process of living in a new country. Besides that, Veerle inspires people to use travel as a tool for personal growth, self-awareness, reflection, and to boost their overall wellbeing. She has been featured in various online media publications and guides her clients during their journey through her eBook, blog, online videos, articles, and personalized coaching sessions.

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