A case of the Living Abroad Blues is no fun. In the previous two posts we’ve examined two very important ways to beat them. You now have a better recollection of why you came to this country in the first place and you now have a strong support system. What more can you do to ensure that the blues don’t get to you? My third and final suggestion is to get the freak out of your house!
Even when you remember your reasons for coming, and even when you’ve got a good group of people around you it can be nice to have a change of scenery. Sometimes your mind might simply be sick of processing the same settings day in and day out, month after month. I can’t remember who said this definition, but I once heard insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The same rule applies here. If you expect your life to be happier or more exciting, if you stay in your city doing the same things everyday…it’s highly likely that things won’t change so much for you. You’ll end up with the blues and be a bit confused as to why. Find some new places to visit.
How can I find places to go, Donald? An excellent question!
Talk to your friends
…a girlfriend, boyfriend, coworkers, etc. about cool places to visit. Remember that support system we talked about? Ask them for suggestions. Odds are if you’re new to a place, there’s a lot that you haven’t seen. In many cases, those co-workers and friends that have been around for years, may be able to give you just the right tip to finding a hidden gem of a spot.
Going to forums is a wonderful way to not only get ideas of where to go, but maybe even finding out if these places are worth the trouble. Forums aside, the Internet is a wealth of resources for cool places to visit. Do a Google search, visit travel websites for your respective country, get ideas from Amazon, GO TO BLOGS!! Blogs are usually quite honest, if a person doesn’t like a place, it’s quite easy for them to say so on their blog. Contrarily, if a person really digs a place, they’ll give an honest assessment on their blog. The only downside with blog advice is that it’s usually only one person’s opinion. Forums, for example, give you a broader picture but, on the downside, maybe fewer details. Although I haven’t done much of it yet, I plan on putting up video footage and audio from some of the cool places I’ve been to, and even some of the places that weren’t so cool.
Go to your local bookstore
and find what cultural experiences are popular. I know my local bookstore has a section for foreign books, so even if I can’t read everything in kanji, I still have books that I can browse through. There are travel books about Kyoto, Nara, Okinawa, and all kinds of other cool places. I can browse through these books at my leisure. Browsing for ideas doesn’t cost one single yen (cent). In your country maybe you have a similar bookstore in your town. If not, try one of the other ideas we talked about earlier.
In Japan, I’ve gotten to see some pretty cool places: Kinkakuji (a beautiful golden shrine), Sanjusangendo (an ancient wooden hall with over 1000 statues inside), Nara Cohen (with lots and lots of deer to feed), and so much more. Although I feel like I’ve seen some great sites here in Japan I haven’t even scratched the surface yet! The possibilities are endless for me, just as I’m sure they are for you.
What if you don’t have so much money to spend trekking to some far-off locale? Not to worry. You’d be surprised at what you might find by just walking somewhere you never have, taking a bike ride around your city, or if you’re a driver, taking a ride and discovering something new. Be an explorer. Parks are completely free, bike riding is completely free, there are free festivals, cheap restaurants, and inexpensive museums. If you don’t have money, don’t sweat it, it just means you may have to use a bit of imagination. I have to do it all the time 😉
We’ve covered three different Living Abroad Blues solutions, all of which I think are very effective. Is one more effective than another? Well, I think that depends entirely on the person. Some people don’t need to have as much support to feel fulfilled, others do. Some feel like they HAVE to go out or they get severe cases of geographic claustrophobia; others can go much longer without a change of setting. There are people who may not be so goal-oriented, maybe there wasn’t such a big reason for moving to a new country. In the same vein, there are others that may have had a very pressing, specific purpose for moving abroad.
I hope that when the blues hit you hardest you can find the solution that works best for you. I’m living abroad and I enjoy talking to new people, so if the blues hit you hard enough and you can’t think of a solution, please feel free to send me an email and I’d be happy to chat with you (email@example.com).