Friday, 1 March 2013

The Loneliness of an Expat Teen...

Those who have grown up in an environment where they are able to experience four seasons (winter, spring, summer, and fall) tend to appreciate them more then they move out of those environments. However, one of the seasons that tends to have the most complaints is winter. The shorter days of sunlight, cold temperatures, and general blah-ness that accompany that season tend to result in people being less active, less energetic, and, at times, lonely.

One of the entries in our book, Expat Teens Talk, speaks to loneliness and the difficulties that teens face, regardless of where they are living or what season they are experiencing. In this entry, the writer says:

"I went from an expat international life to a local life. I like where I live; however I wish that other Expat Teens lived where I do. My biggest issue in this local environment is loneliness. I feel very isolated from the people around me...I miss having friends who are more like me, other expat friends who can relate to my expat experience..."

When an individual is experiencing loneliness due to feelings of being constricted or restricted by cold temperatures and dangerous weather conditions, the loneliness can sometimes be alleviated by recognizing that, eventually, the days will get longer and the weather will warm up. However, for Expat Teens and others who may not know where or when they will next move, alleviating these feelings could be more difficult. Regardless of the circumstances, loneliness can be very uncomfortable, and finding ways to combat loneliness can be a challenge. Here are some ideas of appropriate, healthy ways to combat loneliness:

*Find ways to adapt to your environment, including finding new hobbies to get into that could initially distract you from feeling like you are alone, and ultimately add to your repertoire of personal activities to do, regardless of the time of year or how you are feeling.

*Use this time to spend more quality time with your family. Consider establishing new family routines and rituals that will help you maximize your family experiences and create lasting memories.

*Explore your neighborhood and others in your immediate surroundings. For example,  winter time is one of the best times to explore new restaurants, so set a goal for yourself in terms of how many or which types of restaurants you want to check out.

*Keep in touch with your friends! One of the best ways to combat loneliness is to remind yourself of your family and friend support network. In this day and age, social media has made it extremely easy to do so, so be sure to take advantage.

*Remind yourself that this, too, shall end!

As we go into Spring time in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern Hemisphere, we hope that these suggestions will help you combat loneliness and enhance your overall personal experiences!

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