The emotional toll of relocating: T-Minus 1 Week
In the midst of countless ‘see you soon’s, ‘we’ll have to FaceTime’s and half-hearted but well-intentioned ‘let me know when I can visit’s, it’s easy to forget that the emotional toll of relocating from your home country and plonking yourself down somewhere completely new can be quite high. I’ve somehow overlooked this crucial detail: next week, I will be heading off, alone, suitcase in one hand and map of the Nuremberg tram system in the other, to my new life.
They just don’t get tea
The necessary stint of last-minute meals out and ok-just-one-more-then drinks is fast drawing to a close and now the realities are making themselves increasingly clear. I’m leaving my entire network of support for a country that is wholly indifferent to my presence. A country that doesn’t quite understand the restorative effects of a well-made English Breakfast tea in moments of despair; that doesn’t have an adequate queuing system; that won’t understand my nuanced jokes and niche references to pop culture, honed by a deep understanding and internalisation of British humour. These are all things that I am aware of, and that are absolutely acceptable to struggle with upon moving. Case in point: have I been known to go back to my cold, minimal German flat after a stint at home and sit on the floor sobbing over a packet of McVitie’s chocolate digestives at 12am, much to the bewilderment of my flatmates? Tragically, yes.
That being said – I could not be more excited. For me, living in new places presents a myriad of opportunities to get to know and to challenge yourself. It’s a chance to wander around a town with beautiful buildings, enfolded in an alien language, and acknowledge that this is your new home and that you belong here. It’s a chance to cross paths with people who will add to your life in ways you could never have anticipated.
The emotional toll of relocating
But it also presents a multitude of opportunities to lose yourself. To lose contact with people you thought would always reprise their role in your life, to lose touch with the inflections of your native culture as you absorb new ones. To start taking just that little bit longer to find the words to express yourself in your native tongue. These are part and parcel of becoming an expat, but they are not to be feared: they should be embraced.
In these moments it is hard not to feel a little lost and a little unsure. My advice during these times is to reward yourself and remind yourself of how well you’re doing. Not everyone has the stomach for such an upheaval and the fact that you do, deserves recognition. I would also advise that you savour these particular moments as well, as hard as it may seem. Relocating is something that you will look back on and acknowledge as a defining moment in your life. So, as stressed as you are (and I know you’re stressed), take some time to be reflective and to also let yourself get excited for this new adventure. Yes, you may change and grow, but whatever random notes come to contribute to your personality, remember that you are your own unique symphony and sound beautiful irrespective of your individual facets.