Finding Your Place when Moving Abroad

SA Finding your place when moving abroad

Question: I have recently arrived in Mallorca to live with my wife and young daughter and we can’t quite settle in. I don’t know why this is. We also haven’t really made any close friends, yet we live in a part of the island with plenty of British ex-pats. Could you give me any advice about what most people do when they come to live here as we may be doing something wrong.

We need to start with why you decided to move abroad and live in Mallorca, as people come for many different reasons. To have some sun. To avoid the rat race. Because you’ve fallen in love with someone on the island. To retire. Because you don’t like England any more. To avoid terrorists blowing you up (if you live in London). For your health. To embrace a more relaxed lifestyle. Because you have found a job there. My list could continue…

So ask yourself these questions: why have you come? Perhaps for a few of the above reasons and a few more as well. Also ask yourself: did you really feel good moving abroad? I presume your decision was not spur of the moment and that you researched Mallorca well and you decided where on the island you wanted to settle and as you have a young child, you haven’t based yourself in a part of the island full of raging night life!

The point about most islands is that they are always rather special places and Mallorca is no exception. My experience is that either they accept us or they don’t. In this sense islands are rather like people. Many years ago, I felt very drawn to spend time in Ibiza and at first the island welcomed me with open arms. I couldn’t have felt happier. And then one day I remember, I arrived at the airport and those familiar island smells that I so loved, suddenly seemed rather insipid and I realised, in the way we sometimes realise when a relationship with someone has come to an end and we no longer take joy in their presence, that my love affair with Ibiza had finished. It was time to leave. And I did.

So ask yourself. Has your love affair with Mallorca ever begun? To live here one must deeply want to. Was it your heart that brought you here or your head? And does your wife also like it? What about your little girl? Does she feel at home here? I presume she is going to a local school. The question is: are you feeling this way because you are not supposed to be living here, or not yet?

Or are you feeling this way because you are supposed to be living here and your heart (that always knows best) has led you here, but there is perhaps something in you that may be a bit rigid and so doesn’t allow the island to put its arms around you? The thing about uprooting oneself to go and live elsewhere is that we are leaving our old securities behind and we are challenged to put down new roots. And this can be challenging as the kind of roots we need to put down in Mallorca are different from the kind we had in England. Thus it requires some imagination and flexibility. And, most important, time. New roots can’t be put down at once. They need to be planted gradually. Is the problem that you may be a bit impatient?

Another question to ask is how good are you and your wife are at making new friends, for it is a bit of an art and not all of us are accomplished in this area. I am interested in this issue and for many years I have taught a weekend workshop called The Art of Friendship as I believe having good friends whose presence truly nourishes us, is so important for our health and happiness and if we have blockages here, it can be very detrimental for us.

The point is that if we go to a new country where we may not meet as many people as back home and if we wish to have friends, we need to be open to meeting people who may not be exactly what we feel is ‘our type’ or ‘like us’ and so we need some flexibility in this area. We also need to ask ourselves how naturally friendly we are – if we make it easy for people to approach us. If we are someone naturally suspicious of those we don’t know, then we put blocks up and we keep people who might become friends, at arm’s length.

I know I have put more questions than given answers, but the key is asking the right questions and if we can do that, then the answers naturally emerge. The deeper question is: are you really supposed to be living on this island or not? Are you really ready to sever your roots with your homeland and come to Mallorca? If not, then the island is being honest with you. If you are, then it is up to you to evolve better friend making skills and be a bit more patient and tolerant. I am teaching a weekend on this topic at the end of May, so if interested, get in touch with me. I wish you well.

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