9 Tips to Deal with Stress When Living Overseas

Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD

“Our homes are not defined by geography or one particular location, but by memories, events, people, and places that span the globe.” – Marilyn Gardner


“Stuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world! It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury


“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.” – Dalai Lama XIV


Moving to a new country can be exciting. In fact, whenever people dream about moving overseas the pictures that spring up in their minds and imagination are of happiness, excitement, and adventures. However, as most of us know, the reality can be rather different. While moving overseas can indeed change your life in many excitingly unexpected ways, the whole process of moving can induce a lot of stress. In this short article, we are going to talk about how to make your move overseas.

So you have finally made the decision and made your move. You are now in a new country. You are excited and everything feels new. This is something that you have always wanted to do after all, right? But after a few weeks, you begin to realize that your initial excitement about moving is beginning to subside. You also begin to realize that there is a lot of work to be done for you to organize your life in a new place. 

You are not sure where to start and how to go about things. You begin to see that not everything is as exciting as it seemed before. You are beginning to worry and experience levels of stress. In some cases, people may feel so anxious that they may erroneously believe that their decision to move to a new country was the wrong one. 

So what piece of advice can we offer to those who are going through stress and experiencing anxiety because of their move overseas? Here are some tips:

Moving overseas is a monumental change. And of course, you will feel stressed. But the main thing is that you don’t have to go through a lot of stress. 


Research on Your Country


If possible, travel to the country where you are planning to live. The main root of your anxiety about moving overseas may stem from the lack of knowledge about it. Try to visit your future home at least once before you move there. It is especially important if you have never been there. Learn about their culture and traditions. 

Likewise, if the official language of the country where you are intending to live is different from your native language, make it a point to learn it or at least pick up important words which will help you in your daily life. Even the basic knowledge of a language can make a big difference. And it can change your experience overseas entirely. Otherwise, not knowing the language of your new country may only add to the amount of stress you already find yourself in. So learn the language in advance. 


Keep In Touch with Family and Friends


Make sure that you do not lose touch with your family and friends, especially if you move to a new country alone. Make a point of scheduling at least a weekly online catch-up with them. No matter the time differences that you may have and no matter how far you are you need to agree on a specific time when you can reconnect with your family and loved ones. Fortunately, there is no shortage of apps and platforms that can help us stay in touch with our loved ones. 

If you reconnect with your loved ones on a weekly basis, you will not miss them as much. And even if you do start missing them you will always know that you will be able to catch up with them online. In order to make sure that your busy lives do not collide, it is always a good idea to schedule catch-ups on Sundays.  When catching up with your loved ones, tell them how much you have been missing them and what you all intend to do when you see each other again. 


Engage with Locals


It may be tempting to start missing your country and withdraw from social connections when you find yourself in an unknown country, but this is actually counterproductive. Instead of being defensive and closing yourself off from the rest of the world, try to engage with the people around you as much as possible. Of course, it is easier to engage with them when you speak their language. That is why learning a few words or actually starting to learn the language of your future country would be an extremely helpful idea. But don’t worry if you don’t speak the language of your new country. You can still engage with people who live there.

You may be wondering how. Let’s imagine that you have moved to the US. The good news is that there are many other people from the same country as you trying to settle and build a life in an unfamiliar environment. So connect with these people too. You can connect with them via groups on Facebook or specialized platforms and forums for expats. Expats, who have been living in the US for a long time, have a wealth of useful experience that you can benefit from. They can also assist you in things like finding a house or tell you about the stores which sell familiar products. They can also support you psychologically and help you stay strong and positive when things are tough or something is not working out. They have been where you are now and they will most likely be sympathetic and helpful. In fact, nothing brings people from the same country together as an unfamiliar environment and challenging circumstances. 


Stay Positive


Do not second-guess your decision to move. Moving overseas and settling in a different country with an unfamiliar culture, traditions and a new language offer a set of unique challenges. During the first few weeks and maybe months, they will stress you out and even make you doubt whether the decision to move you have made was the right one. Do not let these negative thoughts get the best of you and discourage you from achieving your dream. 

It is normal and absolutely fine if some things go awry. Yes, learning a new language can be difficult, and sometimes it may feel that is almost impossible. Sometimes you may also be overwhelmed by the number of tasks that you need to resolve. But it is important to stay optimistic and positive. You need to remember that what you are going through is a normal part of your experience moving overseas. 

So no matter what life throws at you and regardless of the challenges you are facing, it is important to develop optimism and positivity. Positive affirmation may help. So when, for example, something goes wrong, you can tell yourself something like “that will pass” or “even though I cannot do it now, I will soon learn how to”. 

When moving overseas stress is inevitable. But while it is inevitable, it is possible to make sure that you are not under too much stress. If you want to be stressed less, then you need to do a lot of preparation before actually moving. The more you are prepared, the fewer things will stress you out. Remember, we are all humans and we thrive when we interact with other people. So the most important thing to consider when moving to a new country is learning the language of this country. Think about how easy it will be for you to settle in if you understand what people around you are saying and what is happening in general. You will be more confident and less anxious and most importantly you will be less stressed. So if you haven’t moved yet, but have already set your sights on a particular country as your future home, start learning the language of this country now!  




Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese. 

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