By Fatima Drar

The decision of going to Austria or to any foreign country comes with a mix of emotions, expectations, and preparation that each person can relate to it in his or her own way.

For some people, it is easier to make this transition but for others, it might include some hardships so, please, remember that these experiences differ from one person to another!

Moving to a different country brings a lot of stress: from the initial planning, visa procedures, and booking flights, to the actual arrival; but it is also an experience full of enjoyable and meaningful moments that will serve as great memories.

During your first days: torn between getting groceries (most shops close on Sundays), and managing all the formal paperwork you need to settle, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the big change (especially with the weather if you came in winter), and you might start asking yourself:

How will I be able to stay here for a long time?

You will be homesick a lot and it is okay to feel that way. During some weak moments or when you feel down, you might be asking yourself whether it was a wise decision to have moved. It is okay to feel that way and it is okay to cry when you feel like it. There is nothing bad with releasing your overwhelming feelings through tears. At the end of the day, it is part of us being human.

It is also okay to have days where you feel lost, to be unsure about whether you can call this new place “home” or not yet, to feel the need to seek therapy for this and other topics (why not?). You might struggle to keep up connections with family and friends back home, to find your balance between them and the new people you are getting to know here, but do not worry, the right people will understand.

It might take some time to make friends, and it may not necessarily have to do with whether you find yourself more of an introvert or an extrovert (by the way, introverts can make friends easily, they just do it differently:)!) but it is a process that takes time for some people, and that is okay.

Your first trip back home might feel different and confusing, and that is also okay! It can be a mixture of feelings: you like your new life abroad and you like your new rhythm, but you miss parts of your hometown, you miss your culture, your friends and family members and that is all understandable.

Below you can find some tips that might help you better develop a feeling of belonging in your new environment, more specifically in Austria:

First, try to immerse yourself in the culture and get to know the locals. Of course, your identity and values should be kept but you should also try to be open to learning about others without detaching yourself from your origins. It is hard at first.

Furthermore, language plays a huge role in facilitating feeling more like you belong. Try to practice German, even if you only know a little. We will not be able to learn a different language if we do not push ourselves to practice it. Maybe, you can join a speaking club where other people share the same goal of practicing German or enroll in a German class.

In addition, try to visit different places, connect more with nature, and go on hikes. Austria is full of many natural landscapes. It is both distressful and it will make you connect to more people.

Also, you can join Facebook international groups like Girl Gone International (add the name of the city where you are in the Facebook search! Here is the Vienna one), Meetup, and of course the NIWA events! For asking questions, for example, groups of English Speakers in the city where you live can also help you gather information.

Another tip that can serve you, not only in Austria but in general, is to not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Generally, people are willing to help when you ask. 

Lastly, but most importantly, this is a tip that I like to remind myself of, practice gratefulness and appreciation. To be grateful for simply being here, to be grateful for having the opportunity to try a new experience that comes with its highs and lows, and to be grateful for a number of things that we may not pay attention to (I am personally grateful for having the opportunity to have had my first flight ever when I came to Austria at the age of 25).

Leaving your comfort zone will make you will learn a lot about yourself, learn how to enjoy your time on your own, and find what really interests you. When you feel it is too hard, please remind yourself of your main goal about why you moved abroad and please remember there is no deadline for you to feel that this place is your home or to feel that you are now fully adjusting to it. It is an ongoing journey that needs patience, resilience, and a big portion of self-compassion.

We hope this article gives you a little bit of comfort, you are not alone in this struggle. We wish you the best of luck in your adventure! 🙂

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