Feelin’ Like I Don’t Fit In

October 25, 2018

I’ve been here since September, yet … I just don’t feel like I’m fitting in. I love living overseas for all the obvious reasons & thinking about my new school I couldn’t ask for better. So, what’s my problem?

Recently I’ve noticed 2 things that unify our staff:  Drinking & kids. If you’re a drinker you’ll fit right in & always have someone to hang with. If you have young kids, play dates at the park will yield an instant bevy of friends who also have children. As for me, socializing around a bottle has long been a thing of the past. And kids? I don’t have any of my own, so hanging out with families who plan activities around kid-type stuff never quite works for me.

I am about 10 years older than most of our staff, something our director didn’t mention during the recruiting process. Years ago, if I was speaking with someone 10 years my senior, I’d feel as if I were in the presence of my parents or one of their friends. Could it be this is how our younger staff see me?

I decided it’s time to look outside school for social fulfillment. I love dogs, cats & pets in general so surely there must be a group of pet owners in this cosmopolitan city who meet to share interests. I like hiking & scuba diving (no ocean here, though), reading, board games, the gym, museums & I’m open to trying new things.

I discovered MeetUp.com not long ago & it’s been a good start. Through MeetUp I joined an expat book club & an art appreciation group that visits different museums around the area. There is life beyond bars and playgrounds! (I checked out CouchSurfing.com but it’s mostly for expats who are just passing through town.)

Moving outside my comfort zone & saying ‘yes’ to things I might have said ‘no’ to back home has helped me meet people & initiate some budding friendships. For example, taking dance lessons is something I’d never, ever consider back home. But, forcing myself to try activities outside my comfort zone has opened up a new world for me. We have fun at dance class–we laugh at ourselves & at each other, all in good fun.

Are you currently, or have you been in a similar situation? Do you have some insights to share with me & other International Educators?

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