The Most Common Fears About Emigration and How to Face Them

Emigrating means taking a leap into uncertainty. Doubts multiply and the resources that we can count on, as we move away from our original location, tend to be minimized.
The Most Common Fears About Emigration and How to Face Them

Last update: 02 October, 2022

We live in a globalized world where migration is a daily phenomenon. Sometimes, it’s an extended vacation. However, the reality is extremely different for those who travel to another country to earn a living. On the other hand, for those who live in the host country, knowing the most common fears about emigrating is a good way of empathizing with the new arrivals to their country.

It’s not always about moving or taking a trip. In fact, many times, migration is motivated by an urgent need (such as poverty or war) and not by a simple desire to change location. At other times, people arrive alone, having seized a career opportunity, yet finding themselves with a new culture to adapt to single-handedly.

To help promote understanding between migrants and residents, we’re going to talk about some of the most common fears that people find themselves facing when changing countries. They’re well worth a read. After all, you never know if one day you might even find yourself in need of this advice.

Worried woman with a suitcase, experiencing fears about emigration

The most common fears about emigration

Making the decision, getting a one-way ticket, dealing with tons of paperwork, and finding a home and a job in a new country. This whirlwind of preparations can generate a great deal of tension. Uncertainty is magnified, and certainties appear distorted. What if everything goes wrong? We’re going to break down these worries into sections.

1. Fear of unwanted loneliness

Perhaps this is the most universal fear of emigrants. Leaving loved ones behind and facing the adjustment stage alone is, understandably, scary. Also, for introverted people, whilst they used to enjoy solitude, it’s now imposed on them.

2. Fear of not having made the right decision

What if after all the effort, time, and money invested, it fails? This is a common fear that makes complete sense. Indeed, being left high and dry in a foreign country can be a serious problem.

Furthermore, for some, returning to their place of origin would be like admitting defeat, a demonstration that they’re not capable of overcoming the kinds of challenges that life tends to throw at us.

3. Fear of culture shock

It’s normal for people who emigrate to a place that’s culturally distant from what they know to feel that their integration into the new place will be complicated. Although they may well have studied the cultural rules of the new location there’ll always be certain differences that’ll arise. In fact, they may only learn by making mistakes.

4. Fear of violence

For many people who are forced to migrate, violence linked to racism is a reality. From derogatory comments to physical assaults and lack of opportunities, migrants often face a hostile environment until they adjust.

As a matter of fact, occasionally, even when they function adequately in their new environment, they still find themselves having to live in a society that rejects them.

For those who emigrate in extreme situations, there’s a high risk that their stress will turn into Ulysses syndrome. This includes symptoms of depression, anxiety, and somatization of stress.

How to overcome these fears

There are many people who find happiness and prosperity by emigrating to new places and fears often dissipate on their own when they adapt to their new environment. However, it never hurts to add some extra precautionary measures. Here’s some advice if you’re in this kind of situation:

  • Find other migrants who can help you with the integration process.
  • Go to immigration assistance institutions to sign up for integration programs (language courses, help with documentation, etc.).
  • If you have the chance, make an appointment with a professional psychologist. You could even choose one from your home country and have online sessions.
  • Always show respect and kindness, except toward those who attack you, of course. There’ll always be some good people wherever you go, the kind who’ll welcome you with pleasure.

Of course, the responsibility for overcoming the most common fears about emigration doesn’t only lie with the immigrants themselves. Residents also have a moral obligation to make these people feel comfortable and integrate in the best possible way. If you’re in this position:

  • Review and deconstruct your thinking. We’re all educated in values that close our minds. Get rid of racism and any prejudices.
  • If you know a migrant, research their culture to help you anticipate when any clashes between theirs and yours could occur.
  • Offer to guide them through matters that might be proving problematic for them, such as certain paperwork.
  • Create a safe environment for everyone around you. Don’t tolerate or participate in any discrimination or violence.
Thinking woman sitting at the window

Emigrating is both enriching and terrifying

Missing the family, speaking another language, facing new and sometimes difficult people, and even learning to move around a new location are all difficult tests, especially since they all have to be overcome at the same time.

However, if you’re in this situation, don’t lose hope. The journey will change you, open your mind, and increase your wisdom. It’s something that not everyone can say they’ve done.

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  • Jiménez Ruiz, J. (2022). La incidencia de los movimientos migratorios en la salud mental de los jóvenes migrantes.
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