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How to cope with the challenges of being a foreigner

Como lidar com os desafios de ser estrangeiro

Living abroad is almost always challenging. Especially too far away, to a foreign country which the language is different from yours, where you know no one else. Many thoughts come across your mind between goods and bads but it is the freedom and new experiences and excitement that you trade it for. Each one might find their very own way to cope with the difficulties and we picked some interesting ideas to help you.

Allow yourself to hang out with people of your own country

“Oh but then I will not learn and practice the local language…” half true because your improvement depends more on you finding a balance amongst your daily life. We’ll talk about it later, ok?

No matter what your nationality is, you can always find people from home and culture and language barriers can be two of the hardest things you will encounter in an experience abroad, much more when it is your first time there. 

Being in touch with people of your own nationality would help you in hard times like how to understand how much is your bill at a supermarket or restaurant, an emergency at a hospital, making a report at the policy after a robbery, an accident on street. Can you imagine how it could be speaking a different language while panicking?

Join in groups on social media

Social media are a great gateway to meet new people and to stay up to date of what is going on in a community, such as Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp groups, etc. You can find good sales offers, accommodation or job opportunities through people sharing in those groups. 

Plus, you may encounter people with more in common than you think, make friends, ask questions, ask for recommendations or tips. Don’t be shy!

Search for meetup groups

Meet up groups are also great for making contact with local people. There many stories of friends and couples that met each other on those meetups. 

Popular gateways are: and

Keep in touch with your family and friends back home

Family members and friends from home will always be a good emotional shelter when you’re struggling abroad. They might be far, physically, but “being close is not physical”, is my motto. Sometimes we might be in touch with someone so often through virtual and that gets to know us more than that housemate sleeping in the next room. Stay in touch with those who care about you!

Find activities that you enjoy

It can be anything as long as you find some joy. Reading, listening to songs, watching movies, going to the gym, cycling, yoga, football… ANYTHING you truly like. 

Keeping body and mind active is a key tool to overcome tough times! Especially when you start feeling down, depressed and lonely. If you can manage to do what you enjoy in the long term it will even prevent you from down times to come (again).

There would alway be public libraries around, sports meetups, community groups for support and mental health. Many free events around the city. 

And the internet! A real tool overseas and border free.

Try and and Facebook again for leisure activities, cooking, acting, cycling, explore the “search box”!

For public library:

If you would like to volunteer, there’s plenty of opportunities in Ireland: 

There are many people looking for help and companion. You can help someone overcoming from their down times while you help yourself!

Ask for help

There is no shame in asking for help and there are more people willing to give a hand than you think. 

It can be your colleagues, classmates, house mates or just a person passing by at the exact time you’re struggling with something. Caution is required but by statistics there are many more good people in the world than the not so good ones.

And for more serious help, living abroad may bring us to limits and challenges we would never come across, psychology therapy is a powerful way to achieve self-acknowledgement and overcome your own barriers. Therapy is not for crazy people, ok? Everyone gets nervous, anxious, depressed or afraid of something some time in our lives. There are great professionals specialized in “living abroad difficulties” that could help you with it! Try it online! Again, no borders!


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Author: Tati Quagilo

Born in São Paulo capital, in 2016 I decided to cross the Atlantic to Ireland to discover where I belong, which is "inside myself", so wherever I am, that is where I belong. Travelling everywhere and every time I can. My days always start with yoga and cycling. I'm also a student in Psychology and migrant in Dublin, a Crisis Support Volunteer, and advocate of mental and emotional health for migrants.
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