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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.