This article was first published by Vivian Chiona of Expat Nest.
As expats, we’re often encouraged to “get out there” and make new friends so that we can feel more at home in our host country. If you’re an introvert, this may feel way out of your comfort zone. We share three simple tips for introverts abroad.
How do you think of yourself – introvert, extrovert, or ambivert? (Take this fun quiz and see if you agree with the results.) If you’re a more introverted expat, you probably replenish your energy with time alone. You may be more reserved and will tend to avoid “small talk”, instead preferring deeper connections built over time or through a shared passion.
An incredible perk of being an introvert is that you know how to enjoy your own company. You can be fulfilled spending time in solitude or at home, doing something you truly enjoy. This can be a huge advantage if you live a nomadic lifestyle, as you’re able to feel content no matter where you are.
Introverts also tend to be naturally introspective – the ability to go within, develop self-awareness and continue to grow are important life skills, and introverts really get this!
However, it’s a myth that introverts don’t need other people (read more introvert myths here). We all need some form of social connection. And when the time comes to reach out, the more introverted expat may begin to feel pressured and anxious.
Simple tips for introverts living an expat life
1. There’s no rush
Solitude and silence are important – they top up your energy tanks so you can be present in the different areas of your life. If you’re an expat who identifies as an introvert, it makes sense to take your time before you begin opening yourself up to others. Find the balance between your need to spend time alone and your need to make connections in your adopted location.
2. Take small risks to build confidence
Sometimes it takes just a moment of bravery to change your life. Invite one person for coffee, for example, or attend a group event for a shorter period of time. And remember: even if you prefer deeper conversations, you have to start somewhere. A great technique for feeling more at ease is to focus on the other person—this takes the pressure off you)—and to ask questions so you can open a meaningful dialogue.
3. A shared passion
Discovering a common interest or cause sparks a deeper connection with others. Do some research on events happening near you and become a member of a community of people as passionate as you are. Consider taking up a hobby you were already doing when you were back home or try something you’ve never had the chance to do before. This will give you the impetus to interact with like-minded individuals and grow roots in your adopted home.
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