It can be hard adjusting to a new way of life. Leaving everything you know to jump into the unknown, only hoping things will go as well as you want them to. But sometimes they don’t. Sometimes, you lose your credit card right after going out of the plane and you find yourself not knowing how you’re going to survive without money in a new country, just like it happened to me when I landed in Ukraine. Sometimes, you realize than you miss your loved ones a lot more than you thought you would and start wondering why you even left them in the first place. Sometimes, you get scared of doing things by yourself because you realize how alone you are right now, away from everything you know. But the truth is, those problems are only temporary and if taken one at a time, they are manageable.
There is no rule to adjust to a new environment. Some people feel at home everywhere, comfortable in every situation and are made to live on the road. Those people make it seem so easy to travel because they appear to have no strings attached, to be as free as the wind and able to find happiness everywhere. Some others have more difficulties to adapt, to find their way in a new way of life. I am one of these people. This dynamic is complicated because the will to travel is there, but the fear of the unknown, of failure, of loneliness, is still omnipresent. So how can one enjoy traveling, having new experiences out of their comfort zone when fear doesn’t leave them? How can one adjust to a new life when finding their way is so difficult?
I sadly don’t have the answers to those questions yet. It’s been only two weeks since I arrived in Ukraine and I am still looking for my routine, a comfort zone in such a different environment. But I have many paths to explore in order to find the happiness I long for.
Understanding and reminding ourselves of why we left is necessary to adjust to a new place. It can be easy to forget the reasons that led us to leave when loneliness takes over. We can start feeling a need to go home, even start regretting leaving. But if we decided to leave it is for a reason and remembering those reasons is a good way to keep our objective insight even in moments of doubt.
Don’t forget loneliness is an illusion. I am lucky to be flat sharing with the other volunteers and to have such an involved and benevolent team around me. Besides, I have regular contacts with my loved ones in France and, against all odds, being separated from my close ones allows me to feel even closer to them, by realizing how much I miss them and how much they mean to me. Go out often, agree to do group activities sometimes, don’t hesitate to ask for help when you don’t feel well…All those reflexes can help you feel safe and realize how loved and needed you are, even far from home. You are never as alone as you think you are.
Enjoy the moments of happiness you find along the way. I had the chance to participate in an activity in an orphanage last Sunday. With some members from a university, we want to the Sasov Zolochiv District to spend the day with the children. We brought them games, coloring books, drinks, and sweets. Spending a few hours with those children, knowing our presence brought them some joy, that I was able to make children smile by teaching then English or just playing with then despite the language barrier made the whole trip worth it in a second. Those moments of joy are everywhere around us. Walking in Lviv’s streets by nightfall and enjoying the lights sparkling in the dark, admiring the Halloween costumes and decorations, discovering new restaurants and having a drink while talking about anything, spending the day in bed with Netflix and a hot chocolate…Take the time to enjoy those moments when you live them.
Everyone has their own method to bear difficult moments during an experience as intense as a long trip abroad. If social media make it seem like all these experiences are exclusively positive, without any problem or moment of doubt, we can’t believe them. It is normal to doubt, to feel alone sometimes, but we must look forward and be honest with ourselves. Happiness takes many forms, and the future holds so many beautiful things, it just takes time to adjust, to find our own way, but it always happens.