The Introvert Expat SAHM Diaries

How To Cope With Expat Blues

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Prior to coming back to Indonesia, I was reading a lot of expat blogs focusing on feelings of displacement, homesickness, sadness and other such expat woes. It helped a lot in bringing the size of the problem down to ordinary proportions. Knowing that what I was going through is normal for expats, and reading stories of those who have gone before me and flourished despite the homesickness & displacement put me in my place, so to speak.

I was also surprised to find out that even those who’ve moved from one Western country to another (for example, US to Australia) would still feel depressed! Truly, I couldn’t relate to this because my ‘problems’ seemed bigger in comparison. For instance, the language, the lack of things to do outside the home, the sleepy nature of this whole place, and quirky things such as still having to eat with your hands at the local KFC outlet, finding squat-type toilet bowls in the malls (scary if you’re pregnant and not used to it), wait staff at restaurants forgetting your order or delivering the dessert before everything else (annoying if you order ice cream or lava cake like we do), and people freely jumping queues at an international ferry port without regard for others or authority.

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live, noisy ‘gargoyles’ poised to raid our garbage bins

At this time though, I’m over it. It’s old news. My eyes have glazed over. This hot momma is moving on ….

I’ve since come to a peaceful acceptance of all these things as simply part and parcel of my environment. Getting irked over them is choosing to be ignorant. Besides, focusing on things you have no control over is a recipe for misery. Sure, I’m still homesick, I still feel uprooted and have even come to accept that I might never find belonging in this country.Β  That’s okay too. All the more reason to find ways to foster happiness any way possible.

Here’s what I’ve learned from all those blogs I was reading

In order to help cope with expat depression, we need to focus on these 3 things that are within our control –

  • create the future
  • create new routines
  • create happiness within

Did you notice that they all start with “create”? There’s so much power to that word, so much authority. And it doesn’t mince words, the ball is in our court.

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Create the future

I read somewhere – again, I should’ve bookmarked it! πŸ˜•- that the future is not something you step into, it is something you create. And if all we have, honey, is an internet connection, then we’re ready to play ball.

Is there something you want to learn? Do you want to become something in the future? Chances are, there’s an online course or video tutorials for that and an online community too. If you’re fortunate to be in a country that offers live classes (in a language you speak), then use that as a platform to socialize and make new friends as well. Let’s get busy learnin’ and let’s amaze ourselves a year from now!

I keep a list of things I want to get into. Here’s a short version of it. I also have becoming IELTS certified, becoming a book editor and becoming a daycare owner – and I just keep adding more (I’ll narrow the choices down later). I’ve put all the major ones on hold though because of the (coming) new baby but once conditions become conducive, I’m going to tackle that list with gusto πŸ‘πŸ˜ƒ

Create New Routines

Something about having routines that involve as much of our new environment as possible helps to anchor us to the new place.

I have to admit though that this is somewhat of a challenge for me because I haven’t found anything worthwhile outside of the home to ‘latch’ onto. But examples would include identifying a new favorite coffee shop you could visit every morning or twice a week for some ‘me time’, a restaurant you go to for dinners with your husband every Friday night, maybe a park to jog in, a church to hear service at, a library or hobby outlet to lift your spirits … Go out and explore. Let’s find those nooks and claim them!

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Create Happiness Within

This one is what I’m all about at the moment πŸ€— This is very easy to do and has the most impact, in my opinion. Simply ask yourself what would make you happy and do that. Or buy it. Like in my case, it’s real books that I can hold and inhale the smell of. I have to buy them online because there are no English books here, so buy them online I do.

It could just be as simple as creating a mood boosting morning routine. A personal treatΒ  every month to look forward to. Dance exercise videos. Throw pillows & curtains in favorite colors. Blogging. Starting a new hobby.

I’ve begun a project at home of surrounding myself with things that, in the words of Marie Kondo, spark joy. I tend to plants and see them bloom (or not!) under my care. I’ve begun buying stuff that help me cook better because -and this is new to me- there is satisfaction in preparing a good, well-thought out meal.

My goal at the moment is to make my my house a place I’d never want to leave πŸ˜€ I don’t know if I’ll ever achieve that but the process sure is fun and worthwhile.

~~ oOo ~~

Give me some advice: Are you an expat suffering or have suffered from expat blues? What one or two things can you do right now to lift your spirits up? What have you done to create happiness away from your home country?

 

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The Introvert Expat SAHM Diaries

Praying About It

SalsaNowhere in my entire life is the adage of blooming where you are planted more challenged (or taunting) than in my present circumstances.

First, there is the double-edged sword of time freedom-in-abundance. I am a housewife with no small children to look after. And thanks to 2 wonderful housekeepers (included in the husband’s expat package) who come to the house every morning to do majority of the housework, I lift my fingers only quite sparsely – to load the laundry and hang it to dry, wash dishes and cook dinner.

Boy, am I lucky! So much time to explore the world, no?

However, there is a downside to my current situation. I am in a foreign, non-English speaking country. In a small, relatively young city that has yet very little to no options for entertainment and/or socializing (especially for foreign SAHMs). That little possibility that something worthwhile might be out there to explore comes with the hurdle of having to learn a new, very alien sounding language.

And I tried.Β  But without the opportunity to immerse, I retain only the basics and my frustration. Or let me correct myself, I have found nothing out there (that does not require traveling far) that is worth getting fluent with the language over. Now don’t get me wrong, learning a new language is a boon in itself. But for me, there just has to be another incentive on top of that.

Hence I remain a couch explorer of the internet and of the antics ofΒ  my own mind.

So now husband and I have decided to move to an English-speaking metropolitan city in December. (Our own decision, not tied to his job). Every atom is my body rejoices at the prospect. Libraries, museums, farmers markets, coffee shops, parks, cheesecake, oh my! And no more people running away from me in department stores because I am a bule.

But my husband’s boss apparently values the husband so much that he is coming up with all sorts of offerings of promotions and bonuses and of moving heaven and earth. Last week there was the offer to arrange a job for the husband in Germany, then last night there was an email that a post would be opened for him in Hungary.

I don’t blame the husband for feeling like the biggest rockstar since sliced bread. (That’s a double whammy for you in the interest of emphasis).

And for WAFFLING.

But the honest truth is that I don’t want to be uprooted any longer! (Stamps feet heavily to emphasize).

I want to build a HOME already!

This is beyond boredom or merely keeping myself occupied.

I want to take root!

And for me this means finally settling someplace where we can be together and where the 3 of us, not just my husband, will have opportunities and we can finally build a community. (And besides, news coverage has me questioning the safety of Europe at the moment).

Sigh!

But December is still about 4 months away and I can only “pressure” the husband so much.

And I did decide to be a trailing spouse. Although right now it sucks.

So I’m sitting here ranting to y’all and feeling the urge to splurge on yarn. Mountains of yarn. Warehouses of yarn! Ocean liners of yarn! (There, let the company you work for pay for that husband! Oh and I want unlimited supply of extra virgin coconut oil too! MUAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!).

So I don’t know. Maybe I will learn masonry.

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The Introvert Expat SAHM Diaries

The Occasional Misgivings of A Former Career Glamazon

camelion-709905_640Last night, wondering about a recipe that just wouldn’t come out right, I texted a friend for clarification. Inevitably, as she was also a former officemate, we got to talking about my new life as a homemaker.

When I tendered my resignation everybody was flabbergasted. All of them, upon knowing I was moving to Indonesia and becoming a housewife, couldn’t stop from asking an incredulous “But what are you gonna do there?!!”. My boss especially (I miss that smart guy!), would ask a team-mate long after I left if I was really, absolutely sure of my decision. Apparently, they just hadn’t pegged me for someone who would drop a lucrative career path to become a housewife.

So anyways last night my friend asked me what sort of things I was into nowadays and I enthusiastically replied “crochet!” with a big smiley face. And to quench any further inquiry from her – a reflex reaction – I immediately texted: “How about you guys? What’re you up to?”

Within a few seconds my phone was frantic with beautiful pictures of them having a team building activity at some plush beach resort. They were doing paddleboard yoga, and they looked fantastic! I wished I were there with them. And then I didn’t.

But that evening I slept with an unsettled feeling.

This morning I realized why, I was feeling defensive about people in my past life thinking I must be bored outta my wits. Choosing the domestic life over the excitement of cross-functional projects, tight timelines and business travels? And then moving to unfamiliar shores? I must be cray, right?

Okay, truth be told, it’s this move to Indonesia that’s really testing my mettle. But thankfully I can also say that to a great degree I have already mastered my mind where boredom is concerned.

You can be bored living in the most exciting place on earth. Conversely, you can also be un-bored in the most uneventful, even confined place you can imagine. It is all in your mind.

Granted, if there’s one thing I truly miss and crave, it’s social interaction. I miss my friends. And more than that I miss the ability to make coffee dates, even being able to wander off on my own is for now but a fond memory. I miss that feeling of independence where entertaining myself socially is concerned.

But as I see it, I can either continue to feel sporadically defensive (and a host of other, unappealing and certainly un-constructive emotions) about my new life , or I can take the time to understand it, adapt to it, become enriched because of it, and definitely look good while at it πŸ˜‰

The choice gets clearer to me every day.

The Introvert Expat SAHM Diaries

I’m Here! πŸ’‹β€ πŸ’‹β€ πŸ’‹β€

We’ve finally arrived at our new home for the next couple of years – Indonesia πŸ™‚

We went via Singapore and hopped on a ferry from there to here πŸ‘£ πŸ‘£ πŸ‘£ Sorry for the pictures but I was too tired and groggy for anything when I arrived!

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There’s so much to discover and learn, and the food: O.M.G.!Β  We’ll have plenty to talk about in the next coming weeks that’s for sure πŸ™‚

Meanwhile, I need to settle in so you’ll have to bear with sporadic silence for a while.Β  I’ll try to not make it too erratic!

~Β  Paardje πŸ’‹β€