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Really struggling, 4 months in(48 Posts)
DH, DC and I moved abroad (within Europe) in January and I'm really struggling lately.
I can't seem to make anything work. Today, DC and I missed a flight back to the UK that I was really looking forward to. We were tagging along with DH (business trip) and if we'd made it, we would be home by now. Instead I'm back in our rented place, with our toddler, no food in the place, alone and upset.
I am just feeling really low. Everything I try to do fails and I feel like a bumbling idiot. I get things wrong at the supermarket (there's a system here I can't seem to get used to), I can't sort out childcare for DC. I can't even figure out how to use public conveniences - the other day I was walked in on, for a whole shopping centre to see, which I found so embarrassing - I cried on the way home because my emotions are on such a hair trigger right now.
I feel constantly embarrassed because I get everything wrong; awkward because I don't speak the language; misunderstood (not linguistically - culturally); and frustrated because I try really hard, but even the simplest things seem to be beyond my grasp.
Just wanting to offload I guess. Anyone else felt like this in the early days? I barely recognise myself any more.
4 months is really early on - have you met anyone yet? Sounds like your dh made the choice to move- does his work offer any help with setting yourself up? Where are you? Maybe there is a mumsnetter nearby?
Start learning the language. Your husband's work should be able to set you up with a teacher. Look for activities for your toddler e.g. at sports centre, community centre, etc. or even just at the park where he or she can play with some other kids and you'll start to pick up how they do things where you live. When your husband isn't working, get out as much as you can and explore your new surroundings. It's less frightening when you're with someone else and if you make a blunder you can laugh it off together.
allegretto yes I have met a few people, they are a great help. But I keep missing meet-ups because of things that I'm trying to sort out, and most of the time I mess those up, too, and then I'm angry at myself for missing out for no reason. I know that sounds a bit pathetic but I just can't seem to make the right calls right now if that makes sense.
I'm struggling to get out enough while also managing DC's naps. I feel so trapped. We had a really good childcare setup back home. Now I'm stuck with a toddler all day and, though on one hand I love this time we are getting, it's just too much at times and it's really getting me down.
I also never seem to have enough food in the flat; home delivery isn't a thing here and I can only ever carry what will fit under the pram.
Feel like I'm pushing water uphill, all the time.
Can you leave the toddler at home one evening or weekend day for an hour with your husband, go to the supermarket for a big shop and get a taxi back? Or even just take a big rucksack and some big bags for life, if you're not confident getting a taxi, or send your husband? It sounds like having more supplies in will make you feel a bit calmer.
LockedOutOfMN I have a language class, so that's good, but I don't feel like I am learning phrases that are useful for day-to-day life. At the moment we are learning about furniture, for example. I have no power to change this unfortunately.
It will take a long time before I will be able to confidently converse. I'm working on it but I'm not good at being crap at things. I know I need to get over myself but I just hate feeling stupid and out of my depth, all day every day
Oh, it is hard. Fifteen years ago I moved away from my homeland with DH. Although I speak the language, there are differences in accent/vocab/pronunciation as well as culture and sometimes, even now, those get to me so I can imagine that it must be even harder when you don't speak the language. I can remember those first weeks, living with in-laws, going places with lovely MIL and feeling like a child b/c I often had no idea why things happened or how to do stuff.
Don't give up, do follow the advice up-thread and hang in there.
Are there other students in your language class? Maybe they are going through the similar experiences as you and would appreciate a buddy for all of those tough and unfathomable tasks and to swap tidbits of advice with?
Can you find an informal language class as well as your formal one? In Spain we call it intercambio. You go for coffee or a beer and talk for 20 or 30 mins. in one language then swap to the other. It's great for learning every day phrases.
It is very tough, it can be isolating and exhausting. What kind of place is it, are there other expats there? Sometimes, having someone else to meet for coffee who can relate to how you're feeling is a lifesaver.
How long will you be there for?
Completely understand the frustration at not learning stuff for everyday life in language class. My first teacher here was obsessed with donkeys. 18 months here and I'm yet to see a donkey, let alone need to talk about its proximity to a table.
I agree that 4 months is early days, but long enough for the initial excitement to have worn off. Excellent advice upthread, I'll just add that if you can, accept that you are going to make a tit of yourself on a regular basis for the foreseeable future. Slowly, the embarrassing moments will get further apart, and you will be ever more resourceful. It's like parenting, it doesn't get easier, you just get stronger.
Can understand why you might not want to, but it could be useful to say where you are as some posters may have experience of living there or be able to offer a few helpful pointers.
I have lived abroad for almost 15 years on three continents and the place I found the most difficult to navigate was Germany because you really have to understand how they do things.
I'm sorry you missed your flight. Any chance of organising another trip home or getting someone to visit you for a bit of support?
Sorry you are struggling OP. I can't say if it will get better as I've been here for 4 years and it hasn't. I would look on FB for local groups. I hope it gets better. It's a tough gig living overseas sometimes
LockedOutOfMN I am so far from being conversational, the thought of that makes me feel a bit overwhelmed!
Sorry I disappeared last night. Went into a bit of a dark place, guilting myself for being crap... feel much better today. Might post in mental health though, I feel like I'm not coping and I need help.
One day at a time, one task at a time. it is not easy being a first time parent, not on you, not on your couple. It is not easy relocating. Both combined are a potent disruption.
Try and find joy in small moments of the day. The morning cuddle, the stroll outside, the nap, the one daily task ticked off the list, the evening ritual.
Slow down and settle into both new aspects of your life. Without guilt, without high expectations. This phase will pass soon enough.dont be too hard on yourself!
Moving to another country and another language you don't speak is really hard, I reckon you need a year to bed in. I would study the language as often as you can, twice a week as a minimum. Things that helped me was a great multi-cultural newcomers group and an informal language coffee group. Spending all of your time with English speakers isn't the answer but having a group of others who understand where you are coming from is helpful. Maybe expect that some times will be hard, lonely and sad and not worry about that too much. After three months I was in tears and hating it, after two years I was in tears leaving I was so happy there. I made so many cock ups but now I can laugh about them and I am a much braver stronger person for going through the experience. I am sure you can find your feet.
OP, I moved abroad when I was 18 to a very different culture and to be honest Ive forgotten how hard it was so I cant really draw on personal experience to try and help you. However, I do have expat staff working for me as part of my sons care team and Im always even more on the look out after they've been here 4 or 5 months for signs they're unhappy and struggling. I think a lot kicks in about then and I hope you feel better soon.
Hi OP you're totally not alone. Adjusting to a new culture is usually really hard. When you've got a very young child it makes it even harder. I live in an international city now and there are LOTS of counsellors and psychologists who specialise in cultural adjustment - as an indication to how common it is.
In the short term is there anything you can do to learn the language faster? Is the country's language on babbel for example?
Check (if you haven't already) if there are any local Facebook groups in English or parent ones even in the local language. If the latter you could google translate or post in English that you're looking for some English speaking mothers to have coffee with. It's free and nothing to lose!
And then you and DP need to take a break and not in the U.K. A night in a hotel there in another town. Exploring the tourist side - together.
And your DP won't be having these problems because (I'm guessing) he's walked into a job there so every day he wakes up with something to do, somewhere to go and people to chat with (even if they're "only" colleagues, you have nobody). What you're going through is completely normal. And it definitely does get better. But it's very, very hard.
I've moved overseas 4 times so far. I feel like 2-4 months is often the depths of the WTF HAVE I DONE???? feeling. I'm usually climbing out of it by 6 months. It's so so hard not speaking the language - I'm in a country at the moment where I will never speak the language, I arrived with a non-sleeping 11 month old, now have a 3.75 year old and a non-sleeping 10 month old, and the first six months were so tough. And although it's been a great three years in many ways, I nearly cried in a shop the other day because I couldn't communicate and I just wanted to be able to behave like the confident adult that I am.
Anyway. It's normal to feel like you do, and I think the key here is to try not to get stuck in the rut of feeling like that. For me, the biggest thing was getting out of the house to an expat mums baby group. Is there chance of something like that?
For what it's worth, it's really hard being stuck at home with a toddler no matter where you are. Making a life for yourself is harder in a place where you don't speak the language, and MUCH harder with a very small child. It's so normal for it to get you down. I really really sympathise.
Depending on where you are, Facebook group "I am a Triangle" may be able to help to. I think there is a form to fill in to get accepted - keeps out most of the spammers, so long term it's worth it, even if it's a pain initially.
All 4 of us drive to the supermarket (do you have a car in the country? - I'm not allowed to drive here, so DH has to do it) and I go shop while kids and DH go for icecream/donuts sometimes. Allows a big shop of heavy staples, then it's "just" fruit, veg, meat, dairy to do.
Do you have one of those little language phrase books? They have loads of conversational topics and sentences, and in my experience if you look like you are trying, ppl are really good at helping out with the language /cultural differences.
What sector does dh work in? I'm assuming he's not the first and only UK expat working there, so can he ask around at work for useful groups/childcare or spouses who would be able to show you the ropes? I'm a bit surprised there hasn't been anyone connected to work to liaise with. I think if you got the hang of a few new routines it would give you a real confidence boost and things wouldn't seem so difficult. It's taken me a long time to feel settled abroad (lived in three countries) and possibly one of the least helpful things you can do is dwell on how smoothly life used to run previous to the move.
Get familiar with the locality at the weekend with dh. Can he help with any of the things you keep getting wrong (whatever they are)?
Can you say which country you are in? There might be a host of helpful MNers who can give you tips on handling day to day life wherever it is. We are in the Netherlands and it changed my life when someone told me you could get your supermarket shopping delivered by one of the big supermarkets (and if you ran their website on Chrome, it translated it for you!)
I hope today is a better day for you.
It's so very hard when you are on your own in a foreign country with DC, especially when those DC are young.
When it's just me and the 3DC, like this weekend, I keep it really simple. I need to feed them, get to their math/chess class, do the food shopping (which is a nightmare with the stroller) and run them in the park.
I know my way around. If I didn't I would be planning my day with the expectation that everything takes twice as long.
Where are you because you might have someone on here who can help you.
OP, I just want to add that people are largely right - that it will get better in time. But I want you to know that if it doesn't, that is absolutely not your fault.
A significant minority of overseas placements /moves abroad don't work out for exactly the reasons you described. I would hate for you to think that everyone else gets over the hump and fully integrates and loves their life in a new country, and there's something wrong with you in not ever finding it easier.
The advice given here is excellent and I would really advise you to try what you can. But if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. And that's ok. Be kind to yourself, OP.
Lots of great tips here! Hang in there!
Whereabouts are you? I'm sure we'll find someone near you!
I found that moving within Europe was more challenging than far away lands. Because we underestimate the cultural differences and expat communities are not as close knit as further away.
Try the Anglo info website for wherever you are. It has a directory that could help you find the help or company you need until you find your ground?