Wait, how can someone have the blues when they get the opportunity to live abroad? That seems a little absurd, right?

It turns out that many people are on an emotional rollercoaster within the first two weeks of living in a new country.  The good things is there is a lot of support out there to get you through the rough patches because, let’s face it, there are some rough patches.   Here are some tips I have found useful from talking to other expats and from going through  the expat challenge myself.

Moving to a new country can conjure up feelings such as:


 You had to start all over again and you have a huge hurdle to jump over before you can integrate into the community.
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Because you don’t know the language. It can be really hard to figure out who your next tribe is going to be when you cannot even strike up a conversation with a stranger in a coffee shop.

Feeling of Underachievement

The standards are different, with language barriers to break and not having a network.

Loneliness and Isolation 

Not having your usual group of pals around, familiar places where people know who you are,  or being away from your loved ones for long periods of time can create a dark place of isolation and antisocial tendencies for some of us.

Loss of Identityscreen-shot-2017-03-30-at-12-08-12-pm1-e1490868690778.png

Some people have to sell or give away almost everything they have in order to make the big move across the globe. Your friends are far away, you can’t find your favourite ice cream, the landscape is different, the Mexican food you have learned to integrate into your diet is horrible in your new country or worse, non-existent!..All of us go through some form of this. Maybe that last one was a little more specific to me.

Don’t Worry. Be Happy. 

As it turns out, these are all completely normal. They are especially normal if you move to a place without a strong support group or a job already lined up (trailing spouses, fresh students, etc.) It can even happen if you do have a great job because you are changing literally everything in your life! Don’t underestimate that, ever. You have the right to feel overwhelmed and a little funky at first.

What can you do?

Some people take it really hard when moving.  Whether it is for a job, fun, or a relationship, culture shock is a real thing. The trick is to embrace the opportunity.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” -Lao Tz

Stop Playing the Victim

The first thing I knew that I needed to do was to stop feeling sorry for my situation when things got tough. I chose this. Why would I choose something that would cause me so much stress from uncertainty and change? Because before I actually went through on the action, I thought only about all of the good parts of the situation.  I was easily convinced that whatever struggles I would go through were worth the experience I was going to have. Heck, I didn’t even consider most of my fears were rooted in reality.  Opportunities to move abroad and experience different cultures do not come frequently and I am actually accomplishing one of my goals in life. This is something that meant a lot to me and I would regret if I did not go through with it. Also, in my case, I just happened to fall in love with someone who lived on the other side of the world and let’s face it – it’s not amazingly easy to get into America.

Be Yourself, Don’t Try Too Hard to Fit in

It will make you feel hopeless and isolated if you are trying to be like everyone in the place you move to. Be proud of your heritage and who you are. You don’t need to change. People around you most likely have always wanted to go to another country like the one you are from and appreciate the differences that you bring to the table. To most people, a person from another country who carries a different culture is quite refreshing and cool to be around. I embrace my California roots and I do nothing to hide my accent and expressions. People need to see and experience that my country has more to offer than D**** T**** , Hollywood and stressed out white collar workers.  Honestly, I don’t like typing or saying his name.  Moving on.

 Learn the Language

IMG_2131Don’t worry if you don’t know the language right away. More than likely people who do not know your language wish that they did. The grass is always greener on the other side. Be proud of your accent, be proud of where you come from and make an honest effort to learn. People will appreciate that you try and they will not judge you. Think of a time when  someone came to your country not knowing much of the language but they tried. A little goes a long way. Surely you don’t think less of them for trying to learn and for making mistakes, you actually admire them more because they are wise enough to take action to learn. As an added bonus when you sign up for classes you will meet new people who are in the same boat as you! A great place to make friends.

Follow Your Creative Passions


If you don’t have a job yet, begin a project that you always wanted to but never had the time to do. Learn something new or start that small side business of making urban greeting cards or start your own garden and cooking blog. Whatever it is, now is the time to jump for it because once you get a 9-5 job, if you want one,  you might not have the time. You won’t have to live in regret wondering what would have happened if you only played out that idea that lies in the back of your creative little noggin.

Another thing to remember – the place you moved to may not have someone doing what you do yet. In this case, the market will be open for you to start your venture with confidence. When I came to Luxembourg, within two weeks I started my own Technical, Creative, and Professional Writing Group with over 40 members who joined within 3 weeks and it is still growing. I am so glad that I  jumped in without doubting myself when I saw the opportunity. It has kept me busy and also helps me with my professional career. Which leads me to my next tip.

 Start or Join a Meetup Group

Meetup groups are amazing at helping you meet new like minded people and making connections. If you moved to a place where there are a lot of other expats, you will have the opportunity to grow your network quickly and soon your calendar will be filled with things do like hikes, social nights or clubs to work on skills in your area of interests. If there is not a meetup you would like to see, chances are someone else will share that same interest. Don’t afraid to launch your own. It takes a few moments and you can create your own events. Who knows? You may meet your new best friend or next co-worker. People will see the initiative that you took and respect the self-starter attitude regardless.

IMG_0537Take Care of Yourself

Exercise, eat good food, and get enough sleep. More often than not, big changes can trigger stress eating and increased alcohol consumption (Bressert). Of course not only can the stress induce toxic behaviours to your body but also the increase of social events where alcohol is present and eating out often is likely. If you are trying your best to be social and the only events available are drinking events or include wining and dining with the company, remember to take it easy and stay hydrated. Try to limit yourself to one drink per day if possible and eat well. Also, try to organize social events that include outdoor activities or something athletic. This will improve your overall wellbeing and help you make connections with people who have healthy habits so you have more of a balance and the only friends you have in a new place thing of fun as going clubbing every weekend and never see the light of day outside of the office, maybe that is not going to help you get over your expat slump.

Practice Gratitude 

 Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.50.14 AMPractice being grateful for all of the efforts of others to help make you comfortable and feel welcomed. Instead of focusing on the negative, focusing on all of the things that you can be grateful for can help you see with new eyes. You may more clearly appreciate that you get to have this exciting opportunity to live life in a different way than most people. Remember: Your story is not conventional, something special in your life is happening and it is an adventure after all. Let people know how much it means to you to spend time with them and how much you appreciate them being supportive, like your boss, colleagues, and family members who try to keep in touch from home.

Stay in Touch With Your Family and Friends From Home Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.48.37 AM

Just because you moved across the world doesn’t mean the friendship has to suffer. You will be surprised at how much it can make you feel better to have a long conversation with a friend who knows you. Make an effort to make calls on a regular weekly or bi-weekly basis. Make plans to visit each other and even write letters. This may even strengthen your friendship and demonstrate that you are friends because you want to be, not because it was convenient for you.

Talk to Your Significant Other 

 Maybe you have mastered controlling your emotions so far in your relationship and looking like an unbreakable goddess or king. If that is you, kudos. Maybe you find yourself about to break you down into a mound full off sobbing self-pity putty and you are ashamed, vulnerable and don’t want to put stress on the relationship.

Here is the deal,  your significant other cannot expect you to be fine during such a big change. He or she is not your psychologist, but you should be able to talk to them about this. They should be plenty aware of what you are going through, otherwise, it can only compromise your relationship. You may act distant or resentful and let it boil inside, and make your actions cold towards him or her without even realizing it. The more they understand how you are feeling the more they can help, because they want to! They really do.

What do you say? Find the time to talk at a private quite and romantic dinner. Let them know that this is a time when you are feeling very vulnerable and that you may be a little more sensitive to their actions for a while. Remember, they are also going through a lot themselves. The last thing you want to do is blame them for how you are feeling. It is not fair to them and not accurate either. Remember, it is the situation and you are dealing with the changes. Screen Shot 2017-03-30 at 11.44.55 AM

It is important to establish what you can do to support each other as best as possible during these times. For instance, if your partner does not know what to do to make you happy, he is going to be frustrated and feel like he is failing at the relationship. Men want to do things for you, they are not mind-readers. Just clearing time to talk about your feelings to each other may be all you need at first. Just a simple “How are you feeling today?” when you see each other in the evening can open up endless possibilities for bonding and making each other feel supported. Let your partner know that. Let them know that private date nights are important to you especially right now. Maybe you both can spend some time on the weekends to explore a new area together in your new country. All of these are reasonable things to bring up and may help you transition into a happier person. Learning how to navigate tough conversations is a powerful tool in your relationship. Good Luck.

Do Your Own Thing –

Make your own friends. Don’t let all of your social activities be with your partner. Make friends that you choose, not friends that your partner introduced you too. Join a club or have a girl or guys night out with your partner. This is key to helping you develop your sense of identity in your new place. Join a club or activity that is different than what your partner does. This way you have something to share that he or she is not familiar with. This keeps the excitement going in the relationship also, after all, I’m sure your partner did not want to be with you because you are exactly like them.

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  • Listen to music from home.
  • Watch TV shows or read books from home .
  • Enjoy cooking your favourite foods from home.
  • Try the food of your new place! Enjoy the culture and embrace the newness.
  • Explore, adventure, get out into nature. Nature has the same nurturing properties no matter where you are in the world.

Have other suggestions?
Bressert, S. (2016). Stress and Drinking. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/stress-and-drinking/


Domestic Violence in a family has a major influence on a persons life. It is never good to experience and most of us who have parents who have been through it, have a lot of work to go through. It is also most difficult to understand why and how it happens because it seems to be something that not many people are keen to talk about openly. For example, women might be easy to forgive and conjure up an excuse for their partner, telling friends and doctors that the bruises are from an accident. A man may omit sharing any experiences of humiliation and psychological abuse from his partner out of fear or embarrassment. Why does this happen? Why don’t these people just leave the person? It doesn’t make any sense! Well, it could be any reason from financial dependency to fear that they won’t have the support that they need to keep the abuser away after they leave. Sometimes people live in fear long after they have left the unhealthy relationship.

Some of the most frustrating times of my life have been spent trying to get someone to understand that possessiveness, codependency, and intimidation does not equal love. Was I successful? Not really. Did it affect me as a child? Of course, it did. Did I make it through? The answer is a big fat yes. It was not easy, but I took full responsibility for my life and how it turned out and I am grateful.

So, how did I make it through life this far without letting my past and my mother’s example of love pin me down into a life sentence of feelings of unworthiness and pity?

The answer: Time, education and inviting quality people into my life. The first thing I had to do was stop letting my past control me. I had to stop thinking I can rescue someone who does not want to be rescued, and understand that I am worthy of all of the things in life I have always wanted, a loving partner, good friends and unforgettable life experiences. It was time to stop playing the victim and take control of the wheel. After I did this, then everything changed.  I was free.

The point of this post is not to talk about how to get over this experience, that will be another time. The point is just to talk about it. Not everyone has the resources and the opportunities to get out of the situation they are in, that is why there is a lot of work to be done. The more we talk about it and let it be known that it is not normal and that we do not have to go through these things alone, the more men and women feel like they will have a voice and are able to steal their lives back and start living fully.

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Domestic Violence, Abuse, and Co-Dependency is not always physical

Taking money from the other person whenever they get paid and not letting them have any personal say in how they spend it, controlling every aspect of finances.

Requiring a partner to accompany them everywhere, making them feel rude or unfaithful because they choose not to.

Degrading her or him or making fun of the others personal hobbies, to the point that they neglect their own interests.

Limiting access to the partners education.

Asking the partner who he or she is trying to impress or calling them names when they attempt to put on make-up or dress up nice, leading to the point where they begin to wear nothing but unisex and baggier clothes that does not show off any of her form.

Any form of hitting or physical violence, for any reason.

Pressure to do drugs or drink then putting the other person down for getting hooked on substances.

Having sex or sexual contact with the other partner while asleep or without permission, no matter how long you have been together or if you are in a serious relationship.

Any form of manipulation or intimidation

Not giving a partner privacy and stalking them at work

Not giving them privacy at home for personal care or family matters

Not letting the other partner have their own non-mutual friends or accusing them of cheating every time they make any.

All of these are tactics that break down a person to make them things that they are not capable of having a loving partner who treats them with respect.

At this point, the partner forgives easily because he or she does not understand the level of respect that he or she is entitled to or deserves. When a child sees this, this is what they are taught. They will expect nothing more than this from their own relationships. This shows the children that they use force to get what they want, and not their words.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 5.45.57 PMDomestic Violence Does Not Only Happen to Women

Men can be abused. Men can be abused by women. It is common for a man to let a woman abuse him and not do anything to protect himself out of fear of abusing her. Men can be also psychologically abused just as much as a woman. Partners can do so many things to hurt the other without raising a hand, such as using a child against one another and taking advantage of custody rights or withholding child support.

Abuse Can Continue After the Relationship is Over

Sometimes partners can use money as a leverage to get their way, making their ex feel like they have no power and will lose any court case or fight. Partners can use tactics such as talking bad about the other parent to the child to get the child to favour them. Other tactics include constantly being late on child support payments, not honouring agreements with custody and shared responsibilities as well as blackmail to name a few.

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How can you help someone who is in this situation?

The answer is simple, let them know that you are there for them when they are ready to handle it. Give them resources. Give them resources to education.  Give them resources to counsellors, to domestic violence shelters, to anonymous hotlines.

Sometimes the person will not be able to get away from the abuser and even deny that there is anything wrong. At this point, all you can do is give them the resources and let them know that you are truly there for them and are willing to help in any way you can.

TALK ABOUT IT, even if you are not being abused. Awareness helps people understand the problem and identify it as well. When a man or a woman being abused feels like there is a major support group to go to for help, they are more likely to think about it as a realistic alternative.


There is no perfectly normal family, and these challenges can help us grow and empower us to make a big difference in the lives of others. We can take responsibility for our place here on earth and pass down the knowledge to others who are in similar situations and to prevent them from happening.

Below are a list of resources for people who feel like they may know someone who is being abused or is being abused themselves. Nobody should have to feel alone. Spreading the awareness helps educate potential abusers as well and may save a life.

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http://www.beckysfund.org/story/my-testimony/  - Becky’s Fund strives to address domestic violence in all sectors of our community, establish prevention-based educational programs to counter domestic violence, and collaborate with others in the community to find ways to change the behavior and thinking behind issues that cause and perpetuate domestic violence.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline 

1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)


National Dating Abuse Helpline 



Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center 

International Toll-Free (24/7) 

1-866-USWOMEN (879-6636)


National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp 

1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)


National Sexual Assault Hotline 

1-800-656-4673 (HOPE)


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 

1-800-273-8255 (TALK)


National Center for Victims of Crime 



National Human Trafficking Resource Center/Polaris Project 

Call: 1-888-373-7888 | Text: HELP to BeFree (233733)


National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights 



National Coalition for the Homeless 



National Resource Center on Domestic Violence 


www.nrcdv.org and www.vawnet.org

Futures Without Violence: The National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence 



National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health

1-312-726-7020 ext. 2011



Childhelp USA/National Child Abuse Hotline 



Children’s Defense Fund 



Child Welfare League of America 



National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges 

Child Protection and Custody/Resource Center on Domestic Violence



Center for Judicial Excellence 




Love is respect 

Hotline: 1-866-331-9474


Break the Cycle 




Domestic Violence Initiative 

(303) 839-5510/ (877) 839-5510


Deaf Abused Women’s Network (DAWN) 

Email: Hotline@deafdawn.org 

VP: 202-559-5366



Women of Color Network 



INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence 







Casa de Esperanza 

Linea de crisis 24-horas/24-hour crisis line 



National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities




The National Immigrant Women's Advocacy Project

(202) 274-4457



National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center 



Indigenous Women’s Network 




Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence 



Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV) 

1-212- 473-6485






Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community 



The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute 




The Audre Lorde Project 



LAMBDA GLBT Community Services 



National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs 



National Gay and Lesbian Task Force 



Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse 




National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life 



National Center for Elder Abuse 




National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) 



A Call to Men 



Men Can Stop Rape 



Men Stopping Violence




American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence 



Battered Women’s Justice Project 



Legal Momentum 





National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women 

1-800-903-0111 x 3



AMCV- Associação de Mulheres Contra a Violência


APAV- Associação Portuguesa de Apoio à Vítima


CIDM- Comissão Para a Igualdade e para os Direitos das Mulheres


Comissão para a Igualdade e para os Direitos das Mulheres


Cooperativa Sociale - Italy


Escola C+S de Almeida Garrett


GAF- Gabinete de Atendimento à Família


UMAR- União de Mulheres Alternativa e Resposta


National Human Trafficking Hotline - 1-888-373-7888

help@humantraffickinghotline.org  |  www.humantraffickinghotline.org

International Directory of Domestic Violence - http://www.hotpeachpages.net/europe/


IBF - Intervention Centre for Victims of Trafficking in Women + 43 1-796 92 98


PAG-ASA + 32 2 511 64 64

Payoke +32 3 201 16 90

Sürya +32 4 232 40 30

Multilingual brochure for victims of human trafficking


National Hotline for Victims of Violence(operated by Foundation “Animus Association”): 0800 186 76

National Hotline for Children (operated by the State Agency for Child Protection and Foundation “Animus Association”): 116 111

National Human Trafficking Resource Line: (operated by A21 Bulgaria): 0800 20 100


La Strada SOS Hotline +420 222 71 71 71




Human Trafficking Prevention and Victim Help Hotline +372 6607 320 


System for victim assistance +358 71 876 3170


National Coordination for protection of victims of human trafficking hotline (Ac.Sé): 0 825 009 907


Human Trafficking Resource Line (operated by Α21 Campaign): 1109 (for international calls please call 0030-2310-525149)


Hotline telephone number for victims of domestic violence or Trafficking (Available 24/7)

In Hungary: 06-80/20-55-20 – Crisis Management and Information Hotline.

Abroad: 0036 80/20-55-20


Hotline for the confidential reporting of suspicions of trafficking:1800 25 00 25


National hotline against trafficking 800 290 290


Hotline against trafficking (in Latvian) 80002012


Klaipedasocial and psychological services centre 8 800 66366

Lithuanian Criminal Police Bureau mailbox for providing information in connection with human trafficking.


Luxembourgnational contact for expertise in the field combating and preventing of trafficking in Human Beings (Police Grand-Ducale) +352 4997 6210

Out of hours contact: Centre d'Intervention National: +352 4997 2341


Vice and Economic Crime, Police General Headquarters, contact for victims of human trafficking or reporting a crime in relation to human trafficking +356 2294 2000


CoMensha (in Dutch) +31 33 4481186


National Intervention and Consultation Centre for Victims of Trafficking +48 22 628 01 20


Hotline against trafficking 800 202 148

SOS Imigrante, hotline for all migrant situations 808 257 257


Hotline against trafficking 0800 800 678


Slovak Crisis Center DOTYK + 421 903 704 784


KLJUČ KEY- Society, Centre for the fight against trafficking in persons: 080 17 22


Institut de la Femme 900 191 010, 900 152 152


National Support line, a national telephone support line for women who have been subjected to threats and violence: 020 50 50 50

Terrafem, a non-profit organisation that runs a national helpline for immigrant women: 020 52 10 10

Report child trafficking (in Swedish)

For more information please visit website of the National organisation for Women’s and Girls’ Shelters in Sweden.


CRIMESTOPPERS, for victims of human trafficking or people having information that will help lead to the identification and recovery of victims in the UK: 0800 555 111
Get a visual of one of San Francisco's oldest most controversial neighborhoods. The Mission was the first place of settlement in the Discovery of San Francisco. Here, the Mission Dolores was built by Father Junípero Serra of the Catholic church. Junípero Serra, with much controversy later, attempted to convert the Native American Ohlone to Christianity. During this time many natives were killed and died due to the stresses of the change. Today, some people might compare the tech boom to one that is repeating history in pushing out the natives to make the mission a place for the people of money and status to reside, as the city gets more popular and crowded and the tech industry becomes the main source of employment for San Franciscans.
One of San Francisco’s oldest most controversial neighborhoods, the Mission was the first place of settlement in the discovery of San Francisco. Here, the Mission Dolores was built by Father Junípero Serra of the Catholic church. Junípero Serra, with much controversy later, attempted to convert the Native American Ohlone to Christianity. During this time many natives were killed and died due to the stresses of the change. Today, some people might compare the tech boom to one that is repeating history in pushing out the natives to make the mission a place for the people of money and status to reside, as the city gets more popular and crowded and the tech industry becomes the main source of employment for San Franciscans.

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