living abroad: how to increase a sense of belonging🤝

how to increase a sense of belonging when living abroad
How to increase a sense of belonging when living abroad

Learn how to increase a sense of belonging when living abroad with these three tips.

In this article, you will get 3 tips to increase a sense of belonging when living abroad. These tips will help you reflect on how you can set up yourself to get more involved and gain the acceptance of your community when living abroad. Today, I will invite you to take three steps Make an effort, Keep an Open mind and Look for similarities.

Emotional struggles when living abroad

When living abroad, one of the most common pains and struggles is a lack of a sense of belonging. Our emotional need to be accepted and recognised as a member of a group is not fulfilled.

You lack a sense of support, attention and acceptance from your new community, as well as there are fewer possibilities for you to provide the same attention to other members.

 By taking these 3 steps while living abroad, you will start relating more with the people of your new city. Above all, you will feel more comfortable because you will have your place and space to express yourself while supporting others. 

Tip #1. Make an effort 

Look for activities, groups of people or communities that you share common interests.

Think about your core values. What does it mean to be true to yourself? Who do you want to become? 

Is nature important to you? Is it the environment and sustainability? Join an organisation that offer activities you can take part in.

You will benefit from being part of a community that you can be proud of belonging. You will meet people with similar values that you can relate to. And you can feel productive, a contributor, and with a sense of belonging.

Tip #2 Keep an open mind

When living abroad, many of our perceptions change. We tend to use our cultural values and background to analyse our new surroundings to understand them. That is normal and happens to all of us.

But then the cultural shock hits us because we cannot make sense of why people react a certain way.

Keep an open mind. Try not to judge people by your standards, but instead approach them with curiosity.

It happened to me in both countries Japan, and The Netherlands. In Japan, I could not understand why people were not more direct telling me what they wanted. In the second, I was shocked to see how clear and straight they were. 

It was when I talked to friends and acquaintances that I learned about the way people interact socially. Both cultures have some differences to mine, of course! But many similarities to mine, too.

Tip #3 Look for similarities

If you’d like to find a sense of belonging in your new country, focus on the similarities with you instead of looking for the differences.

Do you remember the game ” Spot the SEVEN differences”? That game want you to focus your attention on two very similar images but with seven hidden details that are different. You require some concentration and effort to find those differences. What does happen to us when we focus on looking for differences in the country we live in?. We get tired, unmotivated and disconnected. I like to invite you to focus on looking for similarities. The number of similarities is more than the number of differences, like in the children’s game. Most importantly, those similarities make us relate more, and engage and want to participate in the new community.


To sum up, do make an effort when looking for activities or people that you share common interests. You will feel so rewarded.  Similarly, practice an open mind and be curious to understand the culture. Be gentle with yourself, and look for similarities with your values and habits to relate and engage more with the new community.

Are you looking for more personalized tips and feel more at ease while living abroad? 

I am an Expat Life Coach practitioner with more than 20 years living abroad. Through coaching sessions, I can provide some guidance to you. You will not feel lost in your new country, but start feeling more engaged and determined.

Do you want to know more about Expat Life and how to benefit the most out of it?

You may contact me by clicking the button below and booking a consultation call.

If what you are looking for is to learn more about how to invest in yourself and learn new skills while living abroad, visit the Launch You program to get some ideas!

See you at my next post!

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