Combating Loneliness in “Expat-land”

Loneliness in expat-land is a feeling that can unfortunately be constant – what I mean is that it will can come and go with every transition. Sometimes it creeps in during the holidays or when visiting friends and family. Other times it pounces on you after the big move and the husband is off to work and the kids are off to school – your alone and would love to get a coffee with a friend, a friend that you don’t have in the new place ~yet.


One of my dear friends just wrote me this week. She’s been in her new country for almost six months. She has two very active toddlers with her, and she left two step children back “home” for college. Her husband is gone this week and she is feeling very lonely and homesick. Can you relate? I know I can.

Or how about the parent of a child with special needs? What I’m about to share is not meant to point fingers or start a pity party club for me. It is just a fact of life, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that has felt this way. So here it goes *deep breath*I have felt at times lonely in the middle of a party. All the adults are gathered in the living room or around the snack table chatting, laughing, and relaxing. The children are outside playing basketball, riding bikes, or in one of the rooms playing legos or dolls. I’m wherever Jie Jie is ~ I’m sitting at a table feeding her a snack or outside helping her “ride” a bike. I’m usually by myself feeling uncomfortable and fighting the big bad bully: Loneliness. Please note that this is only at times, not every time and it is just a fact of my life. 

What did I tell my friend? What do I do in those times when I want to run to my room and cry like a teenager?

I run to my room and cry on my bed like a teenager. Yes, I do. I’ve learned that it’s okay to cry, to be sad. Crying is healthy to do in doses. The key to not letting my tears turn into something worse like depression is that once the tears stop, I immediately begin praising God for who He is and what He has done in my life. I turn on some praise music and sing really loud. I begin a list or look at a list that I’ve made of all the things I have to be thankful for: a home, food, therapy for Jie Jie, school for all my kids, a great husband, sunshine, chocolate, etc.

Then when my mind is starting to lighten up a bit, I call a friend and make a “date” for coffee.

Your Turn: What do you do to fight the battle of loneliness? Please share in the comments below.

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8 thoughts on “Combating Loneliness in “Expat-land”

  1. Oh yes, this feeling is very common among TCK’s or ATCK’s etc. I’m glad that I passed this stage – usually it hits me after more or less 6 months in the new place – but when I had these moments, I did the same: let the tears flow… and then do something that’s really great for you. What helped me the most was getting out: go to a museum, movie, or just call those I already know to distract me from this feeling.

    • Great ideas – museums, that should go on my “Blessings” list. I have really good museums that I can go to here.

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  5. I struggle with loneliness off and on, all the time. For me, as a expat working mom I feel both gratified to have a job that I enjoy but also left out because so many expat community activities are designed for women (often the spouse at home) during the day while I am at work. So I don’t get to join those things and frankly don’t always feel like I fit in the discussions. In the end, I don’t really have any close female friends as a result. I spend my off time trying to make sure my husband and son aren’t lonely but neglect my own friendships. Probably something I need to work on!

    • I started working outside the home again last year and will be doing it again this year(teacher). I’ve fortunately, have lived in this city long enough that I made some friends before I returned to work – so I’ve had to be intentional to maintain those friendships with coffee/tea or mani/pedi parties. Though, I’m NOT good at that…I have found that months will have gone by before we get together again. Mainly due to probably the busy life of all of us.
      If we should move to a new city/country, I’m not sure I’d be so fortunate to make friends so quickly due to the day job. You are in a tough place – hope that something creative in schedule comes your way so that you are able to make some friendships.
      Thanks for sharing. I appreciate that you shared your experience because it isn’t the “norm”.

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