American living in Gent, Belgium who gets to travel the world for work. Food lover, daily adventurer, complete wanderluster.

Solo Living in a Foreign Country

Solo Living in a Foreign Country

After nearly five years I've adjusted to being alone in a foreign country, but when I first arrived, loneliness and fear were nearly debilitating. If I let my mind start running, I could come up with a million problems where the solution would be crazy impossible to solve. Even now, knowing that you don't have anyone to fall back on, or even someone to problem solve with, gets excruciatingly scary.

A quick throwback to the time the door handle broke while I was inside.... about a month into moving to Belgium. The closest human I knew was in Qatar.  I was trapped.

A quick throwback to the time the door handle broke while I was inside.... about a month into moving to Belgium. The closest human I knew was in Qatar.  I was trapped.

Despite having a Roommate, I spend the vast majority of my time alone in Belgium. Sure, I have a few friends that would help me out, but most of my support group is located thousands of miles away. With time zone differences, simply talking to my friends gets challenging.

Getting out and enjoying this city is one of my daily aims, especially when the sun is shining.

Getting out and enjoying this city is one of my daily aims, especially when the sun is shining.

Fortunately, my Dutch language skills are strong enough where basic interactions are  easy, but that wasn't always the case. I moved to a small town in Belgium during a particularly miserable winter without any knowledge of Dutch, friends or the area. The first few months were insanely lonely...insanely lonely. Eventually, I forced myself to make friends and went to Dutch classes. Both of those things, particularly the classes, really helped make the transition from being scared to being okay.

Cooking full and complete meals, even if they are only for me, helps with feeling more normal and adjusted to life here. I look forward to grocery shopping and excited about what I can make, even if I'm not sharing. Obviously, Mexican is one of my most common themes.

Cooking full and complete meals, even if they are only for me, helps with feeling more normal and adjusted to life here. I look forward to grocery shopping and excited about what I can make, even if I'm not sharing. Obviously, Mexican is one of my most common themes.

Now I live in a much larger city, which helps, but I still have to tackle things solo. When you live in a foreign country, simple tasks can get tough...like the time I forgot it was Belgium Independence Day. I tend to be a regular at cafes where I feel comfortable dining solo. Over the years, I have actually grown to enjoy going to the movies solo; it now feels like a treat.

Getting out and exploring, typically by foot, is one of my favorite workouts and ways to see the city. 

Getting out and exploring, typically by foot, is one of my favorite workouts and ways to see the city. 

With my new fishing obsession (actually not new... I've fished since childhood), this week I'm pushing myself to go to the bait and tackle store solo. I think my hangup on this issue is the fact I'm female. I know it's a little strange, and I'll get looked at for buying worms and heading out to parks to fish solo...yet I don't want to stop my hobby. Typically, beating to my own drum is my theme....yet being a lonely foreigner in a strange country...it can get a little too hard.

Nothing like being the only female in the store...and then one speaking a funny foreign language. It's a little more attention than I like to attract.

Nothing like being the only female in the store...and then one speaking a funny foreign language. It's a little more attention than I like to attract.

Over the past few years, I've embraced this feeling of tackling a challenge. I think I almost thrive feeling a little awkward and uncomfortable. I also think that is absolutely vital to my success here. I feel fortunate and so lucky to be on this adventure and every day I remind myself that I don't want to look back and feel I missed out on something because I was scared. Even at times when I'm solo, I want to live this crazy experience as largely as possible.

Day in the Life: Solo Weekend at Home

Day in the Life: Solo Weekend at Home

Glimpse At My Recent Offices

Glimpse At My Recent Offices