Moving abroad… with anxiety

You shouldn’t let your anxiety stop you from moving abroad. Because the first few days, weeks or months might be uncomfortable, but after awhile you will get more used to your surroundings. I experience anxiety in places and situations that are uncertain to me. I’m constantly over-analyzing the situations and wondering whether I’m adhering to all the social rules and not offending anyone. I am also not particularly fond of asking strangers for help.

  • First of all: get familiar with your surroundings. You will feel less anxious if you know how to navigate yourself through the city. Practice using public transportation, find out how you can easily get to your school or work in your new country. Don’t stay inside too much. If you don’t expose yourself to your new surroundings, your anxiety will only get worse. Exposure will help you realize that… it isn’t actually that scary.
  • Interact with people. If you’re unsure about something, it’s okay to ask the people in the store for more information. Here in Sweden, people are more than happy to help you out. They speak English very well! And if people are unfriendly, it doesn’t have to be anything personal. They might have had a rude customer before you or have a lot on their own minds. Don’t worry about it.
  • It’s a lot to take in, so take babysteps. Walk around for a bit, go back home and recharge.
  • Try to learn the language of your new country. Understanding some of the words written and spoken around you will probably make you more confident! You can even put some of that into action by using easy words on people, for instance, say tack så mycket (thank you very much) when you’re done checking out at the supermarket. Or approach people with a friendly hej!
  • To take away some of your anxiety you can also look up information before doing anything, such as going to city hall. Check out the surroundings on Google maps. Maybe find out what the procedures are. But don’t frantically search everything online. In the end, you want to be able to approach uncertainties as well.

A little anecdote…
Because my Swedish is at a level of a 2-year-old (or maybe lower, haha!) I don’t understand everything I read, and when I’m in a hurry it’s even harder to process the words. So I accidentally bought sparkling water, which I don’t like. Later I went to the supermarket again, I was craving sugary drinks. So I took home a bottle, of what looked like lemonade. When I got home I took a big gulp. It wasn’t lemonade. It was flavored syrup. So now I added the syrup to the sparkled water and it’s delicious!

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