Many moons ago, I packed a suitcase and headed for the UK, A place close to Manchester to be precise. This was back in the early 2000s when social media was slightly more than emails – no Facebook or Skype – where staying touch with loved ones back home was reliant upon well timed phone calls and letters.
Social media has transformed into a wonderful place where we can chat to loved ones face to face online, simply send a text message or instantly update others on where we are and what we are up to. Further to this expats find that the world of technology offers much in the way of support before even leaving home. We can now research and network our new home at the click of a button. Amazing!
For me, I researched all things “Jakarta” and “Indonesia” as soon as we knew we were relocating. Womens organisations, expat Facebook groups, things to do, recommendations for cafes, language apps, the list goes on! The unknown became less of an unknown and this in turn allowed me some control of the situation. Surfing the web from the comfort of home was ‘safe’. I didn’t need to know the language to commence researching and I was able to dip my toe into the culture and investigate what the city had to offer before we had even left home.
Social media supported me to connect with expats and expat groups already on the ground; experts who provided guidance and encouragement when needed and who offered to be my guide when I arrived. Small gestures make a huge difference to newcomers. These Women’s groups host many expat events, post relevant information on their Facebook pages and facilitate networking opportunities for members. Further to this, social media allows one to connect with expats around the globe; a very supportive bunch of people who truly understand the joys and challenges of that present as a result of this lifestyle. These people who have selflessly shared their own personal experiences and advice with me, a perfect stranger, have proven invaluable to during my time abroad – here is my opportunity to say ‘thank you’.
Many expat spouses take to blogging in an effort to document their thoughts, feelings and experiences abroad. A vehicle for good mental health and wellbeing perhaps? At times these may seem quite dark and at others quite uplifting and surprising. My blog was created as a means to work through issues about finding myself and finding my way as a former career gal grappling with suddenly not working and not being so busy. Using this platform has shown me that my experiences are commonplace amongst expat spouses and I realise that I’m not alone if I reach out to others. Blogging has been quite cathartic and feedback from readers has been very positive and affirming – give it a try!