It’s no secret that being an expat in China is an absolutely amazing experience.
In fact, there’s a pretty good chance that when you grow old and look back on your life, the time you spent living and teaching in China will be amongst your most cherished memories.
However, there are certainly some downsides to moving far away from the home you’ve known for so long – and being lonely is definitely one of the primary ones that you’ll deal with.
Indeed, being afraid of being lonely and so far away from friends and family is probably the number one reason I hear from people that say they can’t come teach in China.
Well, if you’re one of those people that’s worried about what do to when you’re lonely in China, I’m here to tell you that you’re going to have the time of your life – even if you do get lonely from time to time!
As someone who’s coming up on two years of living in Asia, I’ve definitely experienced my fair share of loneliness and homesickness.
I’ve developed some outstanding strategies to get out of the loneliness funk whenever I find myself falling into it. Try doing these five things and you’ll be back to feeling on top of the world and having the time of your life so fast that you’ll hardly even remember what loneliness feels like.
Contact Your Friends And Family
Even though you’re physically far away from the friends and family you love, that doesn’t mean you can’t see their faces, hear their voices, and connect with them whenever you want to.
Modern technology has made the world more connected than we could have ever imagined before. With technology like Skype, FaceTime, and all the social networking sites that we know and love – there’s simply no excuse for not staying in touch with those you love!
Try to be consistent with contacting the people you love – instead of only contacting them once you feel like it has been “too long” since you last spoke. This will help you feel like a bit of you is at home with your loved ones, even though you’re physically thousands of miles away.
As we’ve discussed previously on our blog, pesky internet blocks in China can make using some of those social networking services you know and love quite difficult, so make sure you get a VPN so that you can freely use the internet while you’re in the Middle Kingdom.
Exercise Every Day
Keeping a positive mindset is the most important part of remaining happy overseas – and nothing keeps you feeling better about yourself than working out consistently.
When you finish a tough workout session, you’ll feel like you’re floating on air and able to conquer absolutely anything – and your thoughts of being lonely will simply slip away.
Whether you like to get out for a long run to clear your mind, start the day with an invigorating yoga session, or challenge yourself with an hour of weight training – just make sure that you’re doing something to get your body moving every day. You won’t believe how much better your life will be if you do.
It will help you feel less stressed and more confident in the decisions that you’re making in your life – as well as helping you to sleep better at night and helping you to keep from getting sick throughout the year.
There are also many social benefits that can come along with working out – especially if you choose to get a membership at a local gym. These are great places for you to meet like minded people who could become long time friends in your new home of China.
Start A Blog
One of the main reasons you might feel lonely overseas is that you miss out on sharing your life with all your friends and family members that live back home.
The truth is, most expats don’t get to share much of their lives with the people they left behind – but it doesn’t have to be this way!
An easy way for you to share your life with everyone back home is to start a blog. You can share stories, photos, and advice that you’ve gathered about your new home on this blog.
Your friends and family members can comment on your adventures, and you might even pick up some fans you’ve never met along the way. If your blog really takes off, you can even make some extra money to fund your adventures in your new home.
One of the additional benefits of blogging is that it will keep you more focused on all the things going on around you – as you’ll want to have a lot of interesting things to write about.
This will lead you to be more engaged in your new home and you’ll be having way too much fun to let having a little loneliness from time to time get you down.
Get Out Of The House
The worst place you can be when you’re lonely is stuck in the house by yourself.
Yet in our modern world, this is probably the place where you’re most likely to be at times like this.
Sitting around and playing on FB for endless hours isn’t going to make you feel better – in fact it will probably make you feel even more isolated than you would have been if you just sat around and did nothing.
You need to get out of your house and go see all the beautiful things in the world!
Go to a coffee shop and read your favorite novel. Go lay out in the park and listen to your favorite songs. Go to a bar and meet some new interesting people and have them share their stories with you.
It’s easy to make new friends as an expat if you put yourself out there. There are local expat bars, all kinds of expat meet-ups, and a whole country full of Chinese people for you to become friends with.
Take this time away from home to grow your social skills and pretty soon you’ll have so many friends that you couldn’t even find the time to be lonely if you wanted to.
Pick Up A New Hobby
Loneliness usually comes around when you’re bored out of your mind and have way too much time to think about things that make you sad.
Rather than succumbing to boredom, why not spend your time in China to throw yourself head over heels into a new hobby? It doesn’t matter what the hobby is that you choose to pick up, as long as it’s something that you really love and have been wanting to do.
You could finally take the time to learn to play that song you love on guitar. You could learn how to program in Ruby On Rails. Or you could use this perfect opportunity overseas to learn Chinese – one of the most widely spoken and important languages in the world.
Whatever you choose to do, you’ll find endless happiness and motivation when you choose to master a new hobby. You’ll spend a lot more time focusing on all the amazingly positive things going on in your life, and a lot less time focusing on what you may be missing out on.
So what about you? What do you when you’re lonely in China or the country you live in?
(photo credit Flickr CC: johanlb)