How to Cope When Living Abroad During the Coronavirus Pandemic
We aren’t all in the same boat, but we are all bobbing along in the same ocean. That’s why living abroad during the Coronavirus pandemic comes with unique and challenging difficulties.
When you move abroad, you assess the difficulties and how to deal with them. We are used to unique challenges, especially when it comes to coping without friends and family. However, these times are unprecedented.
** [For help and advice on Covid-19, visit the World Health Organisation’s official website]
So, what steps can you take to cope when living abroad during the Coronavirus pandemic?
1. Stay in Touch on Social Media
We should be pros at this by now, but I know how it gets sometimes. It’s so important that you stay in touch with everyone on social media or on the phone because the feeling of isolation is going to set in extremely quickly. Being so far away from home during a situation like this is extremely hard and we need to let those feelings out.
Be sure to check in with your friends and family and also let them know how you are doing too. Some sort of social interaction is SO important right now – especially as we can’t see people in person at the moment.
2. Join Expat Groups on Facebook
You are not alone! There are thousands and thousands of us out there all feeling similar feelings. Through all of the depressing news stories and statuses I see on a daily basis on my timeline, seeing a relevant post from an expat group instantly makes me feel at ease.
It reminds you that you really aren’t alone in this and if you need any help and support from people that understand, then it’s there at the touch of a button.
There are so many different Facebook groups out there. Some are larger, less focused groups and others are specific to your country or city. So, get searching and join those groups.
3. Start Saving for Your Trip Home
With so much time on our hands, you may find that you’re running out of things to spend your money on. Providing you aren’t struggling right now unemployment or other coronavirus issues, then this is the perfect time to put some cash away for a home visit.
Some of us begrudge saving to go back home, as it can cost so much money. Now is our chance to put some away for when we can eventually visit home again.
It also gives us something to look forward to. This is not forever!
4. Have a Backup Plan
A lot of my anxiety has been centred around the ‘what if.’ What if my parents fall ill and go to the hospital? What if I’m needed back at home and can’t go back? What about our jobs if we need to go back? Should I go back now and stay there?
The truth is, there is no correct answer for any of those things. This is what you need to figure out for yourself. What is best for you.
I think it’s always sensible to have a backup plan because if anything, it calms our mind. It’s not healthy to constantly be thinking about the ‘what ifs’, however, having some kind of backup plan in your mind will ease any anxiety if something was to happen. For example, a few weeks ago when it was really starting to kick off in the UK, my partner spoke to his boss about if he was able to work out of the country if we needed to go back.
Just knowing that he could, eased our minds. We knew that it probably would never happen and it hasn’t so far, but it made us feel so much better.
5. Enjoy What’s Around You
If you’ve lived abroad for a while now, you may be used to your surroundings. Things get familiar and we can lose sight of why we moved there in the first place.
It’s more important than ever now to go out while you can (following local laws and social distancing, of course), and enjoy your surroundings. It will make you more appreciative of where you live and can help rekindle your love of the country you’ve adopted as your own.
6. Don’t Inundate Yourself With World News
Since living abroad I’ve always made a conscious effort to keep up with world news. Especially as I moved from an island to mainland Europe, where every neighbouring country seems to merge into one. I still want to keep tabs on local news and news from back home too.
However, I’ve learnt during this crisis that inundating yourself with world news isn’t going to do you any good. Keep yourself updated? Yes. But try not to become obsessed with checking coronavirus numbers and world news. It’s only going to make you feel helpless and depressed. Always remember to switch off every now and then.
7. Remember the Skills You’ve Learnt Since Living Abroad
It’s not all bad! If you live abroad, you’ve gained a form of resistance, that others may not have. Many of us do not get regular access to family and friends. Sometimes you go through monthly or even yearly stints of not seeing your nearest and dearest. Although it’s hard, it’s something that we have had to get used to.
If you’ve moved abroad alone or if you don’t know many people in your host country, then you’ve likely had to get used to entertaining yourself.
Before I lived abroad, I was able to go out for drinks and go to parties with lots of different friends and family. Once I lived abroad, it was just my partner and I. We had to get used to just having each other around and I learned to get used to my own company. Many people who live abroad have also harvested this skill – something that is so important during this period (as it’s difficult to socialise).
I have definitely noticed that my friends back at home are struggling with certain aspects of lockdown and I’m doing okay. However, with other things, I’m definitely struggling more.
It just demonstrates how different things can be once you’ve moved abroad and how different everyone’s circumstances are. But you can get through this.
Remember to ask for help if you need it, look after your body and mind and stay safe.
Living abroad during the Coronavirus pandemic is tough, but we’re all in this together.
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