Once the initial excitement of your move to Spain fades and you settle in as an expat, you might start to question your role and identity as a woman in this new country.
To help the ladies make the most out of their time in Spain, follow these top tips for expat women.
Stay physically and mentally active
If you feel like your move to Spain has stripped you of the identity that you had built at home (from your workplace, school, family, and so on), it is vital that you rebuild your sense of self.
Whatever the reason that you moved to Spain, the most important piece of advice for any expat is to stay positive and keep your motivation to succeed as an expat high. When you are feeling lost, homesick or frustrated – common feelings for any expat, man or woman – do your best to fight those feelings in a healthy way, namely staying both physically and mentally active.
Start exercising or join a sports club, socialize with new people, travel and explore new places, start a hobby, start private journal or write a public blog, or attend motivational seminars. Learning Spanish is not only a great way to stimulate your mind – it’s a great way to start feeling like a local. Staying inside and succumbing to the expat blues may feel comfortable, but getting out and experiencing new things can help get you out of your funk.
Get to work (or play)
If you do not have a job but want to work, think creatively about what you can do – don’t limit yourself to looking for the same job that you had “back home.” If you cannot work in your field of choice in Spain, consider working virtually (groups on Facebook such as Female Digital Nomads is an excellent source of advice) if your industry is suited to it. If not, you can always go back to school to study and earn a new degree, learn a new area of work, or, if your visa permits, start a business in Spain.
If you’re not looking for a job but still want to contribute your time, try volunteering; there are many worthy organizations in Spain that need volunteers, whether you’re looking to spend your time with animals, youths, the elderly and anyone in need.
Join an expat group for women
Everybody needs a network, whether they’re personal support networks or professional ones. Expat executives need to network to facilitate business and gain local credibility; all expat women need to network to make friends, learn and share local advice, or have people to turn to especially if there is an emergency in which you need some moral support or even practical help.
Get involved with a social, professional, sports, political or exclusively women’s organizations. Spain has a very supportive expatriate community and new expats often feel very welcome – you just need to make sure you’re proactive about seeking them out.
Check out some of the most popular expat groups in Spain that are focused on women:
Other expat groups can be found on Facebook, LinkedIn and Meetup. You could even try Bumble BFF, which is a spin on their dating app that is for making friends, not finding partners. Language exchanges, often organized via Facebook public events, are also a great way to make friends and improve your language skills at the same time.
Seek out a mentor
A mentor can offer invaluable knowledge gained from years of living in Spain, especially if she is an expat herself. You can find a mentor anywhere: local business associations, expat clubs, community liaison officers in your own organization if you have a workplace, and entrepreneurs who may even help you kickstart your own business.
Expat life coaches, who specialize in helping expats adjust to their new lives and feel fulfilled, may also function as a mentor.
Living abroad changes you – in fact, a recent study showed that “living abroad can clarify your sense of self” and lead to deeper self-reflection. Women may struggle with their new identify as an expat, but staying open to new experiences, ways of life and perspectives can help establish a newer, stronger woman within.