Why is it community in expat life so darn important? One of the longest-running studies at Harvard dealt with a question we’ve all thought about at least once in our lives: what’s the key to happiness?
The answer they found wasn’t money or fame, it was relationships.
Quality relationships impact our health, happiness, and overall well-being.
One of the biggest challenges that expats have to navigate is how to form new social relationships in a new country.
Back home, you’d built a social circle over the years, and having been brought up in a certain culture, it was easier to talk to people. In a new country though, the culture, language, and feelings of overwhelm that come with a big change can create barriers. And then you may find yourself feeling isolated and lonely, not knowing who to reach out to.
This is why having a community in expat life is so important.
When you are a part of a community, you can rely on people in times of need. You get to enjoy varied experiences. You learn new things. And most importantly, you finally feel like you belong somewhere.
You might be wondering now, “All of this sounds great and I’d love to be a part of a community. But where do I even start?”
Let me share a few ideas that will help you find a community as an expat.
Finding a Community as an Expat
While it may seem daunting at first, finding a community in expat life becomes easier when you are committed to showing up consistently. Remember that to live your best expat life, you’re going to need to put yourself out there. Here are 3 tips that can help:
● Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone
Socializing comes easy to some people whereas it can be scary for many others. If you’re shy or socially anxious, you might avoid interacting with people. This in turn will hold you back from forming connections. So, it’s important to mentally prepare yourself to go out there and take steps to overcome social anxiety.
● Go to meetups and events
You may feel a little awkward attending events and meetups alone, but once you get over that fear and actually show up, you’ll realize many people are there for the same reason as you—to meet new people! Look up Facebook Groups for expats or online postings for events that interest you. The pandemic gave rise to many Zoom events, these might feel more comfortable to you and if you click with someone there, you can always plan to meet offline.
● Join a class
Taking a class, such as a language or yoga class, will help you build connections organically with people who share similar interests with the added benefit of learning something new. Talk about a win-win!
Pro tip: You can start your own classes teaching others a skill you know. For example, baking, cooking, dancing, painting, etc.
● Become a member of my online membership, Badass Expats Society (BES)
Having worked with several expats from all over the world, I understand just how difficult it can be to adapt to a brand-new environment and the many challenges expats face, especially loneliness.
My experience with expats led me to think, what if there was a community of women living in different corners of the world encouraging and supporting each other? That’s how the idea of Badass Expats Society was born. Combining the 4 pillars of honesty, connection, accountability, and connection, BES is a private space where expat women come together to celebrate, vent, support, and learn from each other.
Sounds interesting? Join here!
Being a part of a community enriches your expat life and opens you to experiences you wouldn’t have even thought of. It takes time and effort, but the connections you form abroad will turn out to be incredibly rewarding.
Check the testimonials of clients living the life abroad they want!
By your side,
If you are an expat woman who wants to live a joyful, successful and fulfilled international life, Gabriela is the Licensed Psychologist and Mentor you need.
She helps you reclaim your self-confidence back and design your expat life in your own terms. Gabriela has more than 20 years of professional experience, speaks 3 languages (sometimes in one sentence, like you!) and has supported more than 350 expats overcome anxiety and burnout, build meaningful relationships and enjoy their international lives, wherever they are, wherever they are heading.
Gabriela offers counseling to expat women in Spanish, English and German.