I learned I would be an expat as soon as my daughter was born, and I am a person who loves being with family. The thought of moving away from family hurt me a lot. However, I dreamt of a life where I could be with new people, live a new lifestyle, and enter a new phase. Plus, I am really happy that our friends are a mix of citizens from all over the world!
In this post, I’ll share how friends become family when living as an expat. Finding and keeping friendships have been essential parts of settling into this expat journey of mine.
Coping With Initial Loneliness in Atlanta
When we had previously moved to Denver for a short time (4 months), we had a great team of friends, and we didn’t feel the loneliness. Since BabyA was the youngest in our social circle, we had a good number of friends.
That wasn’t the case when we moved to Atlanta, at least not in the beginning. When we first shifted to Atlanta, due to a change in a work situation, we felt left out even though people were around. Our lives were full of loneliness with no one to smile at and no one to speak to.
Soon, I found “mommy friends” through Facebook, and we started hanging out together. We went to the zoo, aquarium, library, or children’s museum on a daily basis and kept ourselves engaged and occupied. During the initial days, I didn’t drive, so one friend or another was sweet enough to pick us up and drop us off back home!
As the days went on, we started to make even more friends. The moment we got to know someone new in the neighborhood/community we offered to help and opened our hearts to welcome them and make them feel comfortable. So now we are settled, with Almighty’s grace.
Away from our homeland, festivals and celebrations also could become boring when celebrated alone and without family. But, with new friends around, the happiness returns, and celebrations feel complete, with Almighty’s grace.
Dealing With an Emergency Surgery
When I needed emergency surgery last year, both my husband and I decided not to inform family members back in our home country. We were afraid they would worry about us. Luckily, my friends helped take care of my daughter who was just 20 months old during the surgery. They supported us both morally and emotionally.
They even offered to babysit for my daughter and to send us food for a few days afterward, but we didn’t want to burden them. With the support of my husband, I was able to manage after being discharged from the hospital.
Continuing to Enjoy Life as an Expat
Whether we live in our own country or not, friends will fill our hearts with richness and add color to our lives. These friends play a vital role in our happiness, especially when we are away from family. The moral support they give is an added benefit.
Choosing the right friends is important and maintaining them till the end of our stay, at least, is also very important. We should select the people who inspire us with their strength, love, and kindness. We should select the people who make us laugh and don’t take us for granted.
These are the main lessons I’ve learned by living life as an expat:
1) True friendship will help us connect to home and belonging.
2) When living in a foreign country, friends become family.
3) Friends make our hearts happy and enrich our lives.
With this post, I would like to thank each and every person who helped me settle in and who continues to help me as I explore this journey of being an expat. I guess I am trying to give back what I have gained from all of you, with Almighty’s grace.
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Umm Ruqaiya says
You are blessed ma sha Allah.
It is so true… Friends become family living as an expat…
“We should select the people who make us laugh and don’t take us for granted.”….”don’t take us for granted”… This part just touched me deeply…
I guess, one important thing to point is that in most cases if everyone involved is an expat without any family locally then they seem to have similar level of interest in the relationship…or else it’s just too hard and one sided effort. People who have family locally, or are close to their family even if they are in different city, really don’t seem to really realize our emotions and consequently take the relationship for granted. Because while we may consider them family… For them we are “just friends” and hence replaceable.
Alexandra @ Raising Nashville says
I grew up as an expat from birth to age 7 and then again from age 12 to 18. I wish I could give that experience to my now 2.5 year old child – the cultures I experienced, the friendships I made, the things I saw (from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia to the skyline of Hong Kong). What a gift for your little one to be growing up in a country different from home for you + your husband! Thank you for sharing your experiences – I do hope the friends you’ve found that are like family continue to support you through all of life’s successes + challenges.