Loneliness is a common problem when you’re living abroad. When you’re arrived to a place where you never been before, you will feel some excitements in your heart. Your mind is full with many plans about some places to visit, some interesting things to do and some friendships to make. When the first time I was arrived in DRC, I felt so excited about everything. Since that was the first time I moved to another country. I could say that this is my first experiences to live as an expatriate. But, it was not as easy as I thought. Life was hard and needed some patience to deal with.
Fortunately, I was not totally alone when I was arrived. One of my good friends was already here. She’s the one who guided me to do many things. Beside her, I found some Indonesian as well that were living in this country even tough they were not so many. However it was enough to make me happy and perfect. I started to plan everything to fill my days here. Playing with my camera, hanging out with some friends, doing some fun things with new friends, and of course make the other new friends.
But I started to feel disappoint when I knew one regulation of the country which did not allow me to take pictures in many places. It was so frustrated since I like photography a lot. When I was in my country, I did it any time I was free, usually at the Saturday afternoon continued with meeting some friends in some places. But I could not do it here. I tried to find photography community to find the solution. But, I couldn’t find anyone of them. I tried again to find someone that had the same interest in photography. I found some. But after our first met, there was no feet back at all from all of them.
I tried to change my purpose. I did not only try to find friends who like photography since not all people like photography, but also friends that could be asked for hanging out together. I didn’t say that I didn’t have friends at all here. I had some. But, we don’t have some things in common. I hope I could make friends at the office. But once I came, I found that I was the only expatriate in my department. I could not go out as well with the local ones since I’m their supervisor and there are some reasons that I couldn’t write that bordered me to go out with the locals from my department. Well, actually, since I’m working in international organization, there are many expatriates that I can meet. But, still .. I could not come to them directly and asked them to go out without approaching, right?
Doing an approaching was still not easy. I went to the party and met the new people. But I found that most of them were not friendly. Even some of them were watching me as an alien or a weirdo. I don’t know the reason why. But I guess, probably this was because my appearance that a little bit different with others. I’m a Muslim woman and I’m covering my head. No matter how hard I tried to approach them, but it was never worked.
I thought internet could be a solution. At least, I still could find my real friends there. Friends who really knew who I was. Friends who understood me a lot. But, it was not the same. Even tough I could chat with them for many hours, it was not the same by meting them directly. The other problem is the different time. It was not easy to match the time for 6 hours different time. It was not seldom happened on Saturday night, I was already with my pajama at 8.00 pm. What a sad.
As I said, I still have some friends here. But, as I said again, they don’t have the things in common with me. They didn’t like to go out, they didn’t like photography, they didn’t like singing, they didn’t like dancing. Even tough they were never mind when I was dancing and singing when I was with them, I still felt like I was the autistic person. And at the end, I decided only doing dancing and singing when I was alone. This loneliness made me so stressed.
But after 7 months passed, I decided to change myself. I didn’t want to be lonely all the time in this place. I needed to make any efforts to fill my days. I started to join a gym, even tough nobody i knew wanted to join me. I started to do jogging in embassy area (the safest area to walk around in Kinshasa) alone. I started to call new friends and asked them to go out first. And it was not so bad. Some people didn’t respond well but some gave good responses. I tried to make my self more open for the different thing. Even tough, once again I said, it was not easy at all to mix with the new people.
One day, I went out with some friends. And I was the only one who was not drink. They kept talking about beers, wine and I could not give any contributions since I never taste it. But, I still enjoy the conversation and the other part when we were talking about life, vacation, people and many more. And one thing that I really like from them is they respect my decision very well for not drinking the alcohol. They don’t think that I’m not cool when I’m drinking the coke instead of beer. The other day, my friend Blanca, asked me out with some people from Uruguay. When they were starting to speak Spanish, I started to loose in translation. I didn’t have any idea what they are talking about. But as I said, it was not so bad. Blanca translated it to me and I was still in the group. I felt like I started to have my normal life.
Even tough it was not completely normal, but I could feel that my life is getting better. Some people started to call me for having dinner together. Some started to send me email to organize the little trip and some people sent me an invitation for coming to the party. However, the loneliness feeling could not go away completely. Especially when some good people were gone. Every time good friends were leaving the country for good, I was getting afraid and thought that maybe this was the end. Maybe after they were left, the rest people are not really good and friendly. But so far, my fear is not proved yet. I still keep in touch with the rest. At this time, I just try to enjoy my life, keep think positively and throw away the ‘loneliness’ word from my mind.