Beating the Living Abroad Blues: Don’t Forget Why You Came Here

Lately, work has been extremely busy: teaching, meetings, open houses, parent/teacher conferences, more meetings, student/teacher counseling, selling study materials, and preparing for classes. In addition to these tasks, I have been working furiously to take care of those all-too-important transition steps to move from my current job to the next one: securing housing, buying new appliances, preparing for interviews, etcetera.

I very well could have made this a post complaining about how hard things are, but I’m not going to do that. It’s during these tough times that I have to draw from my tenacity reserves which I imagine to be located somewhere between my heart and stomach (not really). My tenacity and sheer desire to stay in Japan and keep working draw heavily on past experiences.

I was truly screwing up my life in the U.S. and coming here was a chance to change, a chance to get things right. If you’re living abroad and you will be for quite some time, your tough times will come, believe you me. These tough times are what I like to term the Living Abroad Blues. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m far from a pessimist, but I wan you to know exactly what to expect if you’re here. The LABs (Living Abroad Blues) hit people in many different ways and in many different scales. Whether these tough times are related to your finances, whether they are emotional in nature, or even whether it’s finding the right job fit for you, keeping the right mindset is often what gets you through.

You’re in Japan, or perhaps some other country that feels like it’s a million miles from home. Sometimes you have to get away from all of the pressures of work, school, or life in general and ask yourself “What am I doing here?” When you hit that “I Wanna Go Home Wall,” an honest answer to this question can make a world of difference. Was it for money? For studying? Did you want to become a musician? A fashion model? A fighter? Did you want to become fluent in another language? When you move to Japan or any country, it’s important to know the EXACT reasons you’re moving. If you don’t know, that’s okay, but sit down and come up with something…today!

If it’s goal you REALLY want you want to accomplish simply DO IT! Having goals occupy your mind in a healthy way. I remember as a kid I would say “I’m bored.” It’s funny, I haven’t felt bored in many many years because I always have something I’m striving for. It’s completely likely (depending on how realistic your goal is) that you could fail. But wouldn’t it be wonderful if you attempted to achieve something big, and you did it? I can’t say I’ve done anything major, but I did pull myself out of a bankruptcy.

My sister’s Japan accomplishments are far greater than mine, she became a fashion model in Japan for goodness sakes. I don’t think you have to be great to achieve some of the major goals, it’s just that you have to be more consistent, more devoted, and more disciplined. See? You’re starting to forget your blues already!

The importance of why you came becomes more significant with respect to the amount time you will be staying. If you’re going to be in another country for a year or longer it is absolutely essential to have a reason for being there. If you don’t, you could end up feeling like your time abroad has been a was of precious years of your life. I’m not saying these goals have to world-changing, but if these reasons are clear, specific, and have some importance to you it’s so much more effective in keeping your spirits sky high. If you just make a goal of exercising regularly, that’s good, but what if we said, I want to gain 10 pounds of muscle by the end of the year? It has a stronger effect, right? It’s also a more quantifiable goal.

In the end, knowing why you came to live in another country doesn’t 100% cure the Living Abroad Blues, but you might be surprised at how great of a remedy it can be. There are other things you can do to beat those blues into submission.

In the next post we will examine another factor in battling those Living Abroad Blues, a support system. Please be sure to read the next article in this series: Beating the Living Abroad Blues II: Having a Support System.

If you’re feeling a bit isolated, regardless of the country you’re in, and you just want to vent, please feel free to email me (I’m a great listener…honest) or feel free to do so right here in this post. Of if you feel like sharing a personal story, I’d love to hear it.

Thank you for reading,

Donald Ash

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Donald Ash is an ATLien expat who has been living in a Japanese time warp for the last six years. While in aforesaid time warp, he discovered that he absolutely loves writing, blogging, and sharing. Donald is the creator, writer, designer, editor, programmer, and occasional bad artist of blog (that's just way too many hats, dude). Wanna know more about this guy? Check out his "What's Your Story" page.
  • Rosie

    Hi, just want to know, are you a great listener? I hope you dont think that I was being ugly .

    • Donald Ash

      I think I’m a pretty good listener…I hope so anyway. Why would I think you were being ugly?

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