Expat coping mechanisms: Practical tips to help you cope as an expat

Helping you cope as an expat

I feel like a grandma of an expat now. I think when you start outliving your fellow Kiwis (the unlucky ones on the two year visa) it really hits home and you start to feel like Julia Robert’s flat mate in Pretty Woman; like you’ve been round the block a few times. Although as a Londoner this now means I get irrationally angry at rain and want to punch people on the tube, it also means I know a bit about coping as an expat.

Here are my tips, I hope they help, please comment below if you have your own to add!

Create a community
It could be anything to be honest. I am personally in favour of collecting crazy girls who like eggs benedict and spend 95% of their time on twitter. But I understand that some people like sports or drinking and stuff; as long as they are your tribe it’s all going to be ok. The unhappiest expats I’ve known are those who didn’t make friends, and tried to make do with the one or two familiars they came over with…they are always the ones to go home early.

Travel like you are being chased
My biggest mistake as an expat is not travelling enough. It’s far too easy to just spend all your money living in London and not go further afield; helped by the fact that London is one of the most incredible destinations in the world. But if you don’t have a trip planned (no matter how far in the future) why have you given everything up to live in the gateway to Europe?

Develop a strange attachment to food from home
I never held any kiwi food in my heart when i was back home and it was freely available. But now? The mere taste of a Perky Nana makes homesickness disappear, Marmite turns 18,000km into just a hop away and Whittakers turns strangers into people you have known for years.

Post meaningful quotes on Facebook
Forgive me if I am overanalysing this one, it seems to me that it’s not enough/ok to just be a normal expat these days. Being an expat is almost the definition of highs and lows, but these days travellers try and publicly portray a life of ecstatic wanderlust, as if having a bad day is betraying the brotherhood. So what we do as we are crying into our ‘three days till payday’ porridge is post some quote on Facebook about broadening horisions/living in the moment/general assery about travel being the meaning of life.
Alt: pin meaningful quotes on Pinterest

Become cynical about news from home
This is not particularly helped by the news from home being rather stupid sometimes. But when you get a group of kiwis together and the threat of war in Syria is looming it is comforting to be able to laugh at the front page ‘seagull robs dairy for the third day running’ story in the kiwi papers.

Buy something unpractical 
I don’t know why this one help so much, but there is nothing better than being an expat and buying that Turkish tea set, Moroccan foot rest or stealing a German beer stein. Where are you going to keep it? How are you going to get it home? No idea, but the simple fact of owning it sure makes you feel amazing.

So youve decided to move to London oh

6 Comments

  1. February 3, 2014 / 10:04 am

    LOL! So, so true! I can relate to each one, provided you swap Kiwi for Aussie. Great post.

  2. February 4, 2014 / 3:57 pm

    I love this post so much!

    That is all.

    Ps. If you’re ever after breakfast buddies let me know.
    Pps. I do prefer pancakes though.
    Ppps. I hope that’s not a deal breaker.

  3. February 5, 2014 / 1:35 am

    I’m not even an expat but I’ve totally developed the attachment to food from home one when travelling before!

    • runawaykiwi@gmail.com
      February 12, 2014 / 1:57 pm

      Its such a funny reaction, you instantly become a food loving patriot!

  4. Tracy
    February 6, 2014 / 9:48 am

    We’ve only been in London for a couple of months, but Australia for 2.5 years before that. For us, we’ve always run on the theory that if it all turns pear-shaped, for whatever reason, we can always go home, and so that makes it easier to relax and enjoy where we are.

  5. happyeverafterbride
    February 13, 2014 / 10:03 am

    I love this post as I am new to the Expat in London thing. Amazing how I have already gotten an attachment to food from home so far. I am obsessed with restocking my kitchen cabinet with all the goodnesses of home and have been lurking ard Chinatown and Asian aisles of supermarkets the two times I have gone out by myself.

    About laughin at the news from home, I am sure Australia will not disappoint either with our tirade of silly prime ministers the last couple of years…