A Language – Two Suitcases: Emigrating Abroad and Emotions

A Language – Two Suitcases: Emigrating Abroad and Emotions

Emigrating and leaving the accustomed culture is an entirely challenging phenomenon. Changing the city of living and leaving a job that has long served as a secure environment inevitably leads to a life-altering process. Loneliness, specific to those who have emigrated, is a condition widely shared by many individuals (Silik Kalem, 2021). Psychological studies tell us that immigrating abroad can trigger feelings of loneliness and fears (Thompson, 2019). Some of the reasons behind this include staying away from loved ones (parents, family, close friends, former colleagues), a decrease in the ecological environment initially, and the reality that existing routines and beliefs must also undergo changes. At the same time, distancing oneself from the comfort zone can create anxiety about the future and intensify feelings of loneliness (Akin, 2021). Emotions and thoughts are two independent concepts, yet they are intricately intertwined. We do not ‘feel` alone, we `think` that we are. And this thought can give rise to unhappiness, fear, disappointment, or depressive feelings.

Considering Turkey’s collectivistic culture (Aycicegi-Dinn & Caldwell-Harris, 2011), living in Europe and experiencing a more individualistic culture (Heu, Van Zomeren & Hansen, 2018) inherently involves an adaptation process. What does this mean?  Person A who has migrated from Turkey to Europe will not have the same needs as the local citizen of that country (Person B). While A might associate the stress coping process with being in a community, B might describe a similar coping process as spending the weekend alone. Thus, a process associated with loneliness for one person can be defined as ‘being by themselves’ for another.

For example, a study conducted with Turkish immigrants in the city of Krakow, Poland, indicated that approximately 30% of them reported experiencing problems due to loneliness (Yentur, 2018). Certainly not a negligible figure. This study alone shows that one in three individuals faces this issue. Moreover, this ratio was observed to be higher in men than in women. One reason for this could be the wider range of support systems available to women.

Emotions are universal. While we cannot overlook culture-specific issues, regardless of the country, normalizing the intense feelings of loneliness during the initial adaptation period for individuals emigrating from Turkey, accepting these emotions rather than pushing them away, should be the primary step.


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Ayçiçegi-Dinn, A., & Caldwell-Harris, C. L. (2011). Individualism–collectivism among Americans, Turks and Turkish immigrants to the US. International Journal of Intercultural Relations35(1), 9-16.

Heu, L., van Zomeren, M., & Hansen, N. (2018). Lonely without or Despite Embeddedness? A Cultural-psychological Examination of Individualism-collectivism and Loneliness in Four European Countries. In IACCP Conference 2018.

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Thompson, B. Y. (2019). The digital nomad lifestyle:(remote) work/leisure balance, privilege, and constructed community. International Journal of the Sociology of Leisure2(1-2), 27-42.

Yentür, Ö. (2020). Göçün yeni adresi: Polonyada yaşayan Türkler üzerine sosyolojik bir analiz Krakov örneği (Master’s thesis, Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü).

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