Riding the emotional relocation rollercoaster: Max and Sam's adventure of a lifetime.
Relocating to a new country can be an exhilarating yet emotionally challenging experience. It often feels like a rollercoaster ride with its ups and downs, and these emotions can vary from person to person.
Max and Sam deliberated about relocating for a few years; it was their dream. However, the prospect of leaving their strong family ties in the Philippines weighed heavy on their hearts and minds. The guilt of leaving their parents was the stumbling block they had to overcome. Ultimately, the desire to live in Australia and create a new life took precedence, and they leapt into the unknown.
Excitement or Nervousness: Initially, the prospect of living in a new country can be exhilarating. You may be eager to explore a different culture, meet new people, and embark on new adventures. This excitement can be infectious and help you push through the initial challenges.
"Sam and I felt more excitement than nervousness, says Max. "We consumed everything about Australia for years and dreamt and planned how our lives would look. We intuitively knew that life would be amazing and that Australia was where we wanted to grow roots; when nerves tried to take hold, we redirected that energy to excitement; we never wavered, even when it seemed so far off, we knew that Australia was going to be home. You could say we manifested our dream".
Anxiety and Uncertainty: As the reality of the move sets in, you may start to feel anxious and uncertain. You may need help adapting to a new culture, finding a job, making friends, and managing the logistics of daily life in a foreign land. This anxiety is normal and part of the adjustment process.
"It was a huge adjustment for us without our families. The Filipino family bond is strong; without it, we felt free falling for a while," says Max. "Sam and I would have many conversations, internally and to one another, about whether we made the right choice; we had to face the feelings and acknowledge how we felt, no matter how confronting or painful. Once we did that, slowly, the uncertainty slipped away, and we knew we had made the right decision".
Culture Shock: Culture shock occurs when you experience disorientation and discomfort in a new cultural environment. You may encounter differences in language, customs, food, and social norms that can be overwhelming. This stage can lead to feelings of frustration and loneliness.
Max laughs when he recalls how he and Sam had to immerse themselves in Australian media and TV content just to get used to Australians speaking. "Aussies speak so fast; we didn't know what people were saying. For months, I would just smile and nod along, hoping I was getting it right! The slang and speed of the Australian dialogue is 100% a foreign language".
Max was also shocked at the Australian work-life balance. He remembers in his first few weeks, the manager at his place of work came up to him just after 5 p.m. and said, " Time to go home now, mate. I want to lock up." Max said he was perplexed and thought to himself, what was he going to do with all his extra hours of free time? I am happy to report Max and Sam adapted very well and quickly filled their free time with playing their much-loved volleyball.
Adaptation: Over time, you'll likely adapt to your new surroundings. You'll learn the language, establish routines, and become more comfortable with the local culture. This phase often brings a sense of accomplishment and a reduction in negative emotions.
"For us, getting involved in community sport was the key to feeling settled. We made strong connections with people and had a purpose outside of work. Looking forward to seeing the team and playing volleyball a few times a week gave us something to look forward to, and before we knew it, we had set up a team and become an integral part of the community".
Growth and Resilience: Going through the emotional rollercoaster of relocating to a new country can foster personal growth and resilience. You'll become more adaptable, open-minded, and capable of handling diverse situations.
Max and Sam feel grateful and fortunate for the relocation rollercoaster. They believe they have become a stronger, more robust family unit. Individually, their growth has escalated because of the challenges they faced, and the people they are today are not the people they were a few years ago.
On Reflection: " There were some tough times, but Sam and I stuck together and logically worked through everything we faced. I still miss my parents every day, but now I can look at it with a more mature understanding of life. And I make sure that I call my family daily; actually, we have a family chat, and the memories it makes are precious to me. If I could advise anyone who desired to relocate but was scared of the unknown, it would be to dig deep, be brave and just do it! " Max says with a warm smile.
It's essential to acknowledge and manage your emotions throughout your journey. Seek support from fellow expats, local communities, your relocation consultant or professional counsellors if needed. Remember that the emotional rollercoaster is a natural part of the relocation process (and life that matters), and with time and patience, you can find stability and happiness in your new home country.