Ashwood Therapy Blog

Life Over Here: Some Thoughts On Ex-Pat Living

Life Over Here | Ashwood Therapy Wellbeing Blog

While holidaying at a destination perhaps greatly different from where we call 'home', many people give at least a little head space to what it would be like to live 'here' permanently.  Moving away from the country in which we currently live and setting up in a new area can be far from a constant holiday, and in order for it to be a success careful planning and level-headed thinking need to given appropriate priority.

I have lived abroad for a couple of periods in my life; once in a culture vastly different from my own where I understood neither the locals' conversation nor the road signs, and then again in a country whose language I had taken time to learn and so could understand and make myself understood.  In both of these cultures, I experienced an initial high at the novelty of my new life, followed by a lull in enthusiasm as the reality of my situation sank in, and finally a more reasonable assessment of what I enjoyed about my new surroundings and what I missed from the U.K.

Now back 'home', the greatest benefit I have taken from my periods overseas is a deeper appreciation of the fact that how things are done - often without question - in one corner of the globe, can be a world apart from how things are done in another location.  Both cultures usually see their way as 'the right way', and look oddly at someone who does not immediately follow suit.  Indeed, these cultural differences are one of the joys of travel!

Professionally, I have come to see that although a common language and way of doing things may unite a population of a certain geographical area, a newcomer can feel misunderstood and isolated, at odds and 'rootless'.  How, for example, can someone joining a particular culture express their frustration at the current situation in a particular town if those he or she wants to express it to have no experience that things could be any different?

Being understood is, I feel, a basic human need.  To have someone who 'gets us', and sees where we are coming from is essential, and indeed is one of the core principles on which the person-centred school of psychotherapy is founded.  One of the benefits of online counselling is that an ex-pat in a different country can access therapeutic support from someone who already has a comprehensive understanding of their mother tongue and cultural heritage.  The Internet means that being distanced physically from the place we may call 'home' is far less of a barrier than it was even just twenty years ago.

Rob Oglesby MBACP (Accred) B.A. (Hons) BSc | Ashwood Therapy

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