Moving to Thailand? Managing the Emotional Rollercoaster of Moving Abroad

July 09, 2015

I moved to Thailand not too long ago and clearly remember those infamous rollercoaster feelings. From uncertainty and anxiety to excitement and anticipation, they had me spinning in different directions. With time and a little perseverance, though, I settled into my new life. Today I’d like to share what helped me get into a new rhythm living abroad.

You are not alone

Many people make the big decision to move to another country but have no way of knowing the depth and breadth of emotional toil it may have on themselves and their family. With all the new experiences ahead of you, such as handling a new job or being freshly retired, dealing with a different living environment and culture, making new friends, and eating different food, you will experience a variety of ups and downs.

Recently I met an American couple who, as I did, followed their career to Thailand. They share similar feelings about moving abroad:

“There was little opportunity to relax in the months leading up to our move to Thailand. On one hand, we were anxiously downsizing our belongings and tying up loose ends at home. On the other hand, we were anxiously anticipating our new life in Thailand because we had so many unanswered questions.

Once we moved and found a place to call home, things began to fall into place. We learned how to navigate the city, found our favorite markets, restaurants, and cafes where we felt comfortable to shop in and eat at, and started making friends. Although it took several months to settle in and find a routine, we are now completely comfortable living as expats in Thailand.”

Alleviate the uncertainty and anxiety

One thing I found that alleviated my feelings was focusing on a small issue that bothered me; I didn’t over generalize and allow myself to be overwhelmed by the entirety of the situation. Once you’ve focused on one predicament, take tiny steps to reach a solution. If you’re feeling positive energy on a particular day, use that momentum to your advantage! Here are several obstacles new expats are faced with and ways to work them out:

Job: Inquire if your new job can put you in touch with a mentor who can guide you through clocking in, commuting to work, the dress code, and office dynamics. Ask to speak to a recently hired employee because they may share similar feelings and experiences as you and be open for discussion.

Environment and Culture: Quality of life, public behavior, and social expectations will be different from what you are used to. Enrolling in language classes and watching movies or reading books about your new home country is a great way to learn about it from a different perspective.

Friends: With the internet available at your finger tips, it is possible to browse for local social groups. Many major cities have clubs established by people just like you looking to make connections and to share hobbies, whether it’s crafts, sports, or discussions.

Food: Surprisingly, food will play a big role in your daily life in both physical and emotional comforts.Indulge in local dishes, but if you are feeling nostalgic for a familiar home-cooked meal, treat yourself to it without feeling guilty.

Being flexible and able to adapt to your new living situation will ultimately help you establish a new “normal” more quickly. These tips, among many others that can be found at Bumrungrad International Hospital’s “Living in Bangkok” events, are a great way to begin discovering new ways that will ultimately help you settle more comfortably in Thailand.

By Christine Valencia, a professional writer from the USA who relocated to Bangkok in the summer of 2014 with her husband and two sons. Since then she's embraced her new way of life and finds joy in navigating the environment, culture, and daily challenges of Thailand, the country she now calls home.

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