Living an expat life for the past 12 years has been a beautiful journey and experience. Seeing the world and living it through people’s costumes and traditions has brought me so many teachings and joy. I am always amazed to see the way people think, interact, and live their lives, realizing the pain they endure, the challenges they face, but also witness how they define freedom and happiness.
Indeed, living an expat life is a privilege and an honor, and I would not have it any other way. However, the journey is not always easy, especially when enduring hard times. When feeling vulnerable, think of being hugged by your mother or relative, have that comfort food, being in that familiar space that holds those sensitive moments, even when you are ill, feeling under the weather, or when unfortunate news arrives.
Expat Life: Bad News Amplified by COVID Restrictions
The COVID-19 restrictions distanced us, put a lot of limitations in place, and what seemed easy to face during challenging “normal” times became more complicated.
Last July 29th, I received the news of the passing of my grandpa. Never had I received this kind of news when abroad.
I saw the WhatsApp messages, and I collapsed on the floor, crying. Later, when I looked through the window, I saw my villa mate, whom I sought to share the news with and get some comfort.
I cried until headaches came on. In the evening, I went to the seashore to express my gratitude for my grandpa’s 91 years of life, his love, his teachings, and his near divine presence in my life.
Expat Life: Technology – A Help in Troubled Times
I had to stay in Dubai, and I told my mom via Zoom: “I am so far away.” She replied: “Yes, we are, too.” My parents live in Bogota, and my grandparents in Mocoa, in the Colombian Amazon. Because of the COVID restrictions, they only allowed my aunt to be with him at his bedside in the hospital. The funeral and mass took place online. This way, I could be a part of it. With technology, time and space have taken on a new meaning.
ometimes, these emotions linger within us, and we long to be with our loved ones and friends. We notice when we miss important dates in their lives, but we also realize that the new life that we have created elsewhere sustains us and allows us to have amazing experiences.
Five Tangible Tips How to Cope With Bad News When Abroad
During such difficult times, always keep in mind that you are not alone.
Here are some tips that have helped me to cope over the years:
- Identify the activities that contribute to your well-being, that make you feel happy, strong, and tranquil.
- When you have arrived at your new destination, check groups or activities you like, make sure they are in proximity, establish your new circle of friends by sharing common interests.
- There are many applications and mediums of communication. Establish times and ways to stay in touch with those you love.
- Keep a medicine kit at home, know your insurance providers and policies, and know which hospitals or medical centers are close by.
- Know that you are not alone. Share how you feel with your friends; they will understand. Have a healthy outlet for your emotion. You can express yourself creatively by writing, painting, drawing, playing music, etc.
I hope you, too, will pursue the potential of a beautiful expat life, wherever that may be. We are all connected. At TCI, we support and encourage each other in our efforts to embrace the expat experience. We have many resources at our disposal. We are a worldwide community that will make you feel at home wherever you are. Where will you land?
by: Tatiana Moreno