No matter how happy you are to find a new job in France or to finally sign a lease for an apartment in Paris, emigrating is a drastic change in your life that not only has to be managed organizationally, but also psychologically. We offer 8 tips for current and future expatriates to combat loneliness, stress or insecurity in the face of a new cultural and social environment in order to better settle into your new life in France and “arrive” mentally.
Whoever relocates his center of life for the job must be aware that this decision does not only affect his professional life. It also means leaving part of your life, friends and family, behind the border. Since not everyone has the advantage of emigrating to France with a spouse or spouse and children, many find themselves feeling disconnected after the initial euphoria of arrival wears off.
Maintain the links to home
Compared to a new start in Australia or South America, a move from Germany to France offers the clear advantage that you are not “out of the world” Is – indeed, is not even leaving the continent!
Train or plane tickets for weekend visits are affordable in both directions, time differences for video calls are not to be considered and almost every French phone operator offers calls to EU countries within the national tariff or flat rate.
Even if visits are rare due to scheduling: Don’t measure the time you spend with your loved ones in terms of quantity, but enjoy real “quality time”.
Whether it’s participating in everyday life or major events like the birth of a new family member, you’re not as directly involved in the lives of those close to you after a move as you were previously. With this fact can come feelings of guilt.
Plan for the predictable and make peace with your own choices
These feelings should be faced and talked about openly with the people concerned. Often guilt is only the product of one’s own thoughts, while family and friends are anything but vindictive. If there is something unspoken that needs to be clarified, the conversation also offers an opportunity to do so.
If necessary, optimize the situation and plan ahead for what can actually be planned. But also try to accept the fact that life also holds unforeseen events, which can also occur if you live in Germany, but are perhaps on vacation and therefore just as absent.
In the end, however, be sure above all else that you can justify the decision to emigrate that you have made in your life first and foremost to yourself in order to make peace with any feelings of guilt you may have towards others.
No matter how open and curious you are about French culture, it is understandable to feel foreign in your new environment.
In addition, it is statistically more difficult to build close friendships with increasing age. Especially with locals who already have an established social environment in their lives, making and keeping contacts can sometimes be difficult.
Take the initiative
In the face of an emerging feeling of loneliness, it is important not to remain passive. Humans are social creatures and the likelihood of you being alone with this feeling is very low.
So stay open and curious! Use social networking sites and join, for example, Franco-German groups where you can not only socialize but also get advice on living in France.
Find French language tandem partners who can help you improve your language skills and engage in conversation with locals.
Attend Franco-German events or meetups. If you have taken an embroidery course in Germany, take up this hobby and at the same time familiar habits in your second home in France.
Above all, bring a little patience and willingness to invest, because social contacts are quickly established, but friendships take time.
Emigration means a permanent change of scenery, which demands a lot from the human psyche.
The bureaucratic gears sometimes run differently than in Germany, cultural customs have to be adapted to, at the new workplace you want to show yourself from your best side, create a social environment as quickly as possible, and perhaps the exhausting search for a suitable apartment is still going on at the same time. The organization on all these sites requires permanent self-discipline over a certain period of time.
Do not forget to give yourself breaks. Define for yourself what activities or time off will do you good.
It is important that these do not mutate into further items on the to-do list, but that you really find them relaxing. Don’t torture yourself out of a sense of duty to attend the Thursday evening happy hour with your French work colleagues when you’re more in the mood for a book and a cup of tea.
You don’t have to plan ahead what you’re going to do, just set aside a period of time to do as you please, whether it’s jogging in the park with your new sports group, a weekend trip to Bordeaux, or even just watching a few episodes of your favorite show before going to bed. It is your time!
Being in a different cultural environment in France than in Germany offers the freedom to start from scratch and to learn personally and professionally. However, some may feel lost or helpless in the forest of novelties.
Previously known and accustomed standards in communication and working methods do not necessarily apply in France. The loss of one’s own socio-cultural competence that may be felt as a result can lead to a feeling of helplessness or fear of loss of identity.
Don’t discard your habits, add new ones to them
Emigration demands a kind of adaptation that is sometimes very intrusive to one’s personality. But this does not mean that you have to discard habits or even parts of your personality and replace them with new ones.
Feel free to use your previous experience. Above all, you should see integration in France not only as a demand to adapt yourself to the environment, but also as an opportunity to add something new to your skill set.
Be tolerant of ambiguity in return, d.h. being open to different developments, even if you yourself cannot comprehend them at first. Flexibility is an indispensable skill in an intercultural context. As an expatriate, you are in the best possible situation to learn these skills.
6. Withdrawal as a reaction to excessive demands and uncertainty
In the worst case, stress, the lack of an established social network, and possibly still a lack of French skills can be so unsettling that some may react with social and internal withdrawal. This self-imposed isolation does not, of course, help to overcome organizational problems, reduce feelings of loneliness and ultimately “arrive” mentally in France.
Motivate yourself to engage in regular activities
Where breaks are called for in the face of stress: Make plans for undertakings, preferably with other people, and stick to them. This may take some effort at first, but it should be done without coercion.
Analyze your gut feeling. If you once don’t go to the gym with your colleague because you prefer to go to bed early after a long day at work – no problem. But if insecurity is the reason for passivity, it is necessary to fight against it with the observance of regular activities and make them a habit so that they create a framework of security for you.
In it, you can then take care of socializing and polishing your French skills, ultimately combating both stress and loneliness.
When the reality turns out to be completely different from what you imagined about living and working in France, dealing with it presents one of the most difficult challenges.
Try to understand the motives behind your decision and your own behavior
Consider the severity of your disappointment, what the reasons are, and how your situation can be improved.
Consider also the reasons that led you to migrate, if z.B. the company headquarters in Paris played a more important role as a coolness factor than the actual interest in the activity.
Also be self-critical and consider whether possible misconduct on your part also plays a role in your disappointment. Starting from scratch in a new country is often a tempting idea, but each person also brings with them a predisposition of their own that cannot be easily erased. If you are dissatisfied in France for similar reasons as in Germany, this may not only be due to external circumstances, but also to how you deal with them.
In any case, you can use the opportunity to evaluate desires, life expectations and self-image, and if necessary. redefine. Whether you then stick to your decision or whether your life in France turns out to be a temporary, but valuable stay abroad, you will then decide completely independently.
For some, the thought of returning to Germany may “not make it” seem like a defeat. You shy away from this decision, which only exacerbates the relationship with the environment and your own situation.
With all the challenges of living abroad, you can of course keep the option open to return to Germany.
Consider a return as an alternative option, not a defeat!
Even if this option is not put into practice, it can be a reassuring backup for emergencies in moments of doubt, a Plan C. In this, too, there is a freedom of choice with which you live your autonomy and which ultimately means nothing other than that you have the reins in your hands. This is a powerful thought!
If you think you have given yourself enough time, weighed all the positive and negative aspects of staying in the neighboring country, and should actually decide to take the road back to Germany: Walk it with pride! You have challenged yourself and taken on the task. The lessons you learn may be different than expected, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t mastered the situation.
The personal and professional experiences gained and developments lived through were worth the time and cannot be taken away from you. In terms of your professional future, living in France can also have a positive impact on your career.