Our ability and capacity to travel around the world is truly a wondrous gift. It takes courage, imagination and patience to do so. Not only to witness, but also dwell amongst various cultures in their most authentic state. It is honestly a marvel to behold. But when you choose to journey out and see the far beyond you remove yourself from a lot of what you know. One could say that the adjustment threshold is an obstacle that few overcome. Let's be honest, the grass is always greener on the other side. You want to see the world but you don't want to be isolated. Well you are not alone my friends, regardless if we want to admit it or not we need one another. Whether its family friends, loved ones or simply the company of one another companion. Here's six tips for combating loneliness while teaching abroad.
Keeping yourself in constant movement is one of the methods one can use to keep themselves occupied. Whether it's going for a jog every day (morning or evening) or going to the gym three times a week, it is a great way to distract one's self. Physical stimulation and friction gives one the ability to cancel distracting or stressful thoughts and focus one's attention on the task at hand. And if you look at it on the bright side, it has wonderful health benefits. So, start moving!
Participating in something that is bigger than yourself is a way to let go of one's selfish and less significant issues. Not to say that one's individual problems are insignificant; however, when one serves a cause or purpose, one can find solace and a healthy perspective on one's own situation. Volunteering and aiding others who are in a tougher predicament will always make you feel better. But most importantly, it will help and make others feel better. So get out and volunteer!
As mentioned briefly, we are a socially dependent species whether we care to admit it or not. We need each other and find comfort. Fortunately, in China, one has access to a little thing called WeChat. Through this convenient work of art called WeChat, finding a hobby and a group to be a part proves to be a less rigorous task. I mean basically finding others with common interest is literally a couple of clicks away. Once you find people that are interested in similar things it is easier to cope. One can feel like they belong to something. So in other words, join a sports group, (if you are in to books) join a book club, (if you enjoy food) join a food chat. The point is to spend more time outside of your house and with other people. Speak, lough, and explore each other's minds and I can assure you that feeling of loneliness will begin to squander.
Constantly speaking with family, can either be toxic or therapeutic. However, regardless of this truth, one should try to be in constant contact with loved ones. There is a balance of communication with one's family that is unique to every individual. But it is one's duty to find this mid-ground. Through this one can provide themselves with the proper amount of comfort and familiarity to quench there yearning for home. In the past, individuals had to wait months for letters to be delivered to loved ones. So take advantage of the technology that exist today. Your family will always cherish and enjoy your phone calls. Especially your parents, it is always nice to talk and remind one another that you aren't alone. More people care about you than you think. And being reminded of this will always provide one with piece of mind.
Stepping back and witnessing the beauty around the world is another way one can find solace in any situation. Becoming lost in nature and architecture (and practically any form of art) is a way of coping with the feeling of loneliness. And yes, meaning going to parts of China and Shanghai that you have never been before. Get on a bike and ride till you can't anymore. Or take the bus or train and just travel. If you can find admiration in the nature and various natural (and unnatural) structures around oneself, then you will also find a sense humility.
Practicing humility and gratitude is something that one should do, even if one does not feel lonely. Although, if you do indeed feel lonely this can be very nourishing to the mind. It is wise to always consider why you chose the path that you have chosen. One should also reflect on what one would be doing if one did not choose to venture out in to the world. Contemplate how you felt before you left, and how you felt when you arrived. And always remember, this is a once in a life time experience. There are few who are given the opportunity to travel. To take it for granted is would be shameful.
At the end of the day we are all extremely fortunate to travel and experience new cultures and lifestyles. The fact that you have made the choice to commit and participate in this life changing event is only evidence that you can cope with change and hardships. And this my friends, is all isolation is. How you deal with it is entirely up to you, however know that you, indeed, have the tools and the capacity to overcome it. And as always to, continue to explore, continue to discover and try everything. You never know what lies ahead!