A girl standing among the crowd outside the National Art Gallery in London, England.

Living Abroad With Anxiety

Thoughts from Alanna…

Every four weeks, I buy a month-long bus ticket to get to and from work. Every time, I practice what I’m going to say in my head: “Can I get an adult monthly ticket, please?”

It’s the same sentence every month. Nevertheless, I practice it religiously in my head on my way to the bus stop.

I count my money about forty times, just in case.

Living abroad with anxiety is like a full-time job. Even in a place where they speak the same language, I now catch myself hyper-aware of my foreign accent. What if they can tell I’m not from around here? What if I say the wrong thing?

Empty restaurant tables ready for the dinner rush.

Ordering at restaurants… sweat-inducing!

God forbid, what if I do something stupid?

I’ve negotiated with anxiety for years, the general feeling that something isn’t quite right but I can’t put my finger on it. The panicked feeling I get in my gut. Something’s wrong. I’m missing something.

In the end, I deal. I get through it. But living abroad emphasizes the anxiety in ways that never cease to annoy me. It can be little things, like needing to ask for directions because I’m not familiar with the area, or ordering food at a takeaway and getting embarrassed over my accent.

One of the worst anxiety-inducing situations is socializing. I am not blessed in this department. On one hand, I genuinely need a lot of time alone to regroup and recharge, but I still need to hang out with friends.

Sometimes I just want to have a girls-night without anxiety. Get drinks and gossip about nothing important. Talk about our childhood friends and where they are now. Reminisce about high school or college or our families. But in England, I have no childhood friends or high school memories and I definitely don’t have anyone to reminisce with. I am newest edition to any friend-group with no connections to anyone. Not even an old friend I can bring along to events or parties so at least I know someone.


I want to regrow my social-circle but with anxiety, it’s tough.

But that’s my final self-pity party. In the end, I’ll deal and I’ll get through it. Speaking of which, anyone in need of a token Canadian?