EXPAT RUT (
sinking hole of unadventurousness); definition – when the excitement of a new country fades and you start to spend an increasing amount of time on your couch interacting with 2D television people instead of venturing out into the world of 3D real people.
Being an expat is fun and exciting and adventurous – and then it just turns into real life (and sometimes, real life is boring!) Sometimes we find ourselves in a little bit of a rut; saying “no” to adventures we should be saying “yes” to only to stay at home binge-watching Netflix.
It happens to all of us and it’s nothing to be ashamed of – but staying in that rut for too long can be seriously depressing. Even though you live permanently in this country, you can’t have seen EVERYTHING – I’m sure it still has a ton to offer; you just have to go out and find it.
When I first arrived in Belgium I had to see everything, visit every city I could and meet every new person I could find. But now that I’ve been here for a few years, I find myself slipping into an expat rut; I don’t generally make new friends, I don’t go out very often with the ones I have and I haven’t explored a new Belgian city in months!
There is so much Belgium still has to offer and so much I haven’t seen yet!!! While my rut has been a little bit of pregnancy busy-ness, and some of it has been pregnancy budgeting – I’m not ashamed to say that the rest of it has been an unadventurous lazy haze. (Again, it happens to the best of us, and we all deserve some down-time!)
Sometimes I just like to sit at home and binge-watch the entire Gilmore Girls series. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make time to go out and have fun, too!
Here’s how to bust out of that expat rut and incorporate some fun and adventure back into your life!
- Set a realistic first goal (like exploring a new place in the country every month.) That’s not too hard of a goal, right? Then once a month will become once a week (if time permits).
- Make it budget-friendly. If your budget has been a reason you haven’t been as adventurous as you liked to be, make your budget fit your expectations! Traveling around your new country doesn’t have to break the bank, there are tons of city day trips you can do on a budget.
- Invite people (friends, other expats). Sharing your day-trip in an expat group and asking if anyone would like to join you is a fun way to break out of this rut; meeting new people, seeing new places (and it may even be better for budgeting, as you can share costs).
- Attend events from expat groups. There are a ton of expat events every month (movies, picnics in the park, swimming, etc) and joining in on just one of those could be a rut-buster. Even if you don’t generally enjoy big group events, attending one can help you meet new people and remind you how much fun it is to get out and do things.
- Go on a simple walk every week to a new area in the town/city you live in. When I lived in the busy city of Antwerp, I went on walks almost every day to different parts of the city around our apartment. I absolutely loved the big-city feel, because I had never actually lived in a city before. Adventuring out even on an hours walk made me develop a better feel of the city, where I was, what I could see and the things I could do.
- Keep a day trip city journal. Those days that you are permanently glued to your couch, whip out your travel journal, type in “fun things to do in ___” and plan a trip! It’s a lot easier to do a trip on a whim if it’s basically already planned and all you have to do is go!
Best of luck to you and I hope my time in the ‘rut can help you find a way out of yours!
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