Relocation is known to be the third most stressful life event, which is especially evident when moving overseas. The loneliness an expact feels can have surprisingly harsh effects on one’s mental health. Moving abroad almost inevitably includes creating an entirely new network of people in an unfamiliar environment – a daunting task for even the most social of butterflies, and this is in addition to the dizzying list of things to keep in mind in order to be well-prepared for the transition. However, it’s a crucial component to being happy in your new home.

On a more positive note, this problem doubles as a fantastic opportunity to give yourself a gift, something that will remain useful for the rest of your life: a skill. You are already reorganizing your life, so this is the perfect time to make space for that hobby you always wish you had time for, and improve your life in ways you might not have expected.

Cherry-Picking Your Skill Set

Let’s take singing, for example: a fantastic way to improve your breathing, posture, circulation and even your communication skills, since you’re required to pay close attention to your tone, pronunciation and rhythm, especially when singing with others. Additionally, choral singing is known to reduce stress and increase happiness.

If you’re someone who appreciates tangible results, maybe you’d like try your hand at woodworking. Working with your hands enhances dexterity and fine motor control. A bigger project will demand physical exertion, so you’ll also get a bit of a workout. Perhaps the most useful benefit of all is an understanding of the way wood behaves and what makes a quality piece of furniture, allowing more informed decisions when it comes to choosing the dining room table or a sturdy desk. In time, you may even be supplying the furniture yourself.

You might be looking for a more peaceful, calming activity, that brings you joy in the comfort of your own home. A windowsill full of houseplants should do the trick. In addition to being visually appealing, houseplants improve the air quality by removing some airborne pollutants, and routinely caring for a plant can be very therapeutic. Don’t worry about lacking a green thumb – you can start with something simple, like a succulent.

These are just a few examples of the endless options out there. What does your heart desire?

The Gateway To Friendship

What does this have to do with building a network, you ask? Well, one of the main building blocks of forming new connections is finding common interests. It only makes sense that hobby groups are a great place to make friends, be it a choir, woodworking class or houseplant discussion group; philosophy lecture, chess club or hiking society. Getting the conversation going is a lot easier when there’s a topic at hand that is guaranteed to foster excitement, and a common goal provides motivation to work and problem-solve as a team.

You may be stepping out of your comfort zone, which is never easy, but rest assured that you are not the only one. Hobby groups are formed by people who haven’t let the rest of their lives get in the way of committing to something they love, willingly putting in the time and effort required to make it work, and they are doing so together. You may be surprised by how quickly you’ll feel like you belong.

Expat BloggersSally Jackson is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.

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