If you are alive-which we assume you are since you are reading this- then you’ve had “one of those days.” You know, the days where, from the moment you wake up, everything seems to go wrong. The small things and the big things. People annoy you to no end. It is exceedingly difficult to see the good side of things. Those days are just “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.” Everyone, unfortunately, has had one.
While these days are annoying and trying while living at home in a more controlled and stable environment, they can be downright terrible at times if you live abroad. Imagine having one of those bad days in a place that is completely different culturally. It isn’t very pretty. For us, there are days when literally all of the little, and big, differences that are ever-present make themselves glaringly, annoyingly obvious. Sun-brellas becomes bringers of eye pain and face destruction. People packing themselves by the doors of the subway even though there is plenty of room in the middle of the car. Cars seemingly trying to go out of their way to hit you while you walk across the street. The language, something we are learning and enjoying, becoming a burden and an annoyance. When you live in a place that is so different, there are just that many more opportunities for annoyance and frustration, depression and anxiety.
But, have no fear! We have dealt with this and learned, we hope, how to best deal with it, so you don’t have to. Here are our tricks to minimize the damage:
First, as soon as possible acknowledge, out loud if possible, what is happening. The place you’re living is not hell. The people are not out to drive you insane. The world is not working against you. Rather, you are having one of those days. This is monumentally helpful, if only because it gets it out into the open for yourself. Announcing that you know what the evil forces in your mind are trying to do to you allows you to have a sense of humor about it. It allows you to joke about how annoyed you are, to lighten the mood. It allows you to reflect on your day, however bad it may be, and deal with it, rather than let it deal with you.
Second, talk to someone who is in the same predicament as you. This does not mean that the person you talk to you must be hating life at that moment as well, it just means find a fellow expat and discuss your situation. They have felt the same thing before, trust us. They understand how difficult living abroad can be, and they definitely understand all of the small annoyances that come along with such a life. Expats are lucky, if there is an expat community around them, because we are never alone. There are always other people who have or are feeling like we are at any time. Talk. Joke. Vent. Laugh. Do whatever it takes to release some pressure. Fellow expats can be a great tool, so use them.
Lastly, realize that those bad days are what make your good days so great. Those lows are what give you full realization of the highs. It may be cliche, but it is also true. You could never feel great if you haven’t felt terrible, so go into those days with some optimism. Those sun-brellas are annoying as hell, but at least they give you something to joke about. All those people packed near the subway doors? Well, look who gets all the space in the middle. This guy/girl. (If you can fight your way through the masses…) Those cars and scooters trying to hit you are a great way to check your Frogger skills in the real world. The language? Another reason to laugh at yourself, and, at the very least, at least you can complain with friends while most everyone around you is ignorant of the fact. Indeed, possibly the most important thing to realize while you’re having “one of those days” is that these days are the contrast that allow you to feel the great days. Now, that is something to be optimistic about.
You are going to have “one of those days” whether you live at home or abroad. Obviously, being abroad brings along its own difficulties. But, it is important to remember that none of those difficulties are greater than the good you are receiving from living in a completely different culture. Keep your head up and keep following the path you’ve chosen.
Got anything you want to get off your chest? Having one of those days? Tell us below.