Moving to live in another country is an exciting adventure but it’s also a big step and brave decision to make. There will be many challenges that you’ll have to face, both familiar and unfamiliar.
During your first few months in a new country you may well experience what some Expats call a ‘Honeymoon Period’; which much like a newly married couple, is full of happiness before the day to day realities of life kick in and you need to start dealing with the bills, the groceries and all the usual chores of the daily grind.
As the novelty of moving to a new country begins to wear off you might find yourself feeling sluggish, tired and overwhelmed. You may even find yourself wishing that you had never moved and thinking that you should have just stayed at home after all! These feelings can be very isolating and may leave you feeling lonely, uninspired and regretful; however, don’t worry, because many Expats experience this in the first few years of their new lives overseas. I experienced a little bit of expat fatigue when I first moved to Italy.
Cultural and language barriers can also exasperate Expat fatigue as can small things like being disoriented in a foriegn supermarket or driving on the wrong side of the road.
Diagnosing Expat Fatigue.
Expat fatigue is well recognized and although it’s not a medical condition it can be approached in a similar way. Firstly, you need to have diagnosed your feelings and realize that they might be caused by Expat fatigue. The types of things that you might experience if you are suffering from Expat fatigue includes, but is not limited to:
- Feeling unmotivated and slovenly.
- Depression and loneliness.
- Anxiety at the thought of moving again.
- Overwhelmed and worried about the future.
Once you know that you might be suffering from expat fatigue you can start to take positive action to consciously address it. Remember, you should always act in conscious ways to address your Expat fatigue and while you are overcoming it never be too hard on yourself because in many ways what you are feeling is only natural!
Ways to Combat Expat Fatigue and Overcome Expat Plateau.
People have been moving to live and work in other countries for hundreds of years and so the ways to deal with feelings of Expat fatigue have been successfully implemented by generations of people!
There are many simple and effective ways that you can start to address your feelings of Expat fatigue and if you just stick with it, and give yourself a chance to get better, you’ll soon be feeling more energetic, positive and hopeful about your future overseas!
Try Changing Your Routine.
If you’re feeling that you’re stuck in a rut and getting Expat fatigue then you might want to consider changing up your routine a little! This doesn’t have to mean making huge changes to your life because it could be something as simple as going to a new coffee shop in the evenings!
Alternatively, you can start to take regular walks around your new town to explore the nooks and crannies which the tourists never find or do your grocery shopping in the local farmers markets. These small changes to your routine will help you to remember all the reasons why you moved in the first place and fill your life with more interest and novelty!
Read Blogs, Books and Advice from Other Expats.
One of the best ways that you can help to overcome feelings of Expat fatigue is to read books and stories that are written by other Expats. This will help you to keep your problems and trials in perspective and remind you that you are not alone!
You’ll start to have feelings of solidarity and connection with these other expats, even if you never meet them in person. There are many fascinating blogs and websites that have been created by expats that give you a whole range of tips, tricks and hints on how to make the most your new life overseas.
Go on a Holiday!
Just because you’re living in a foreign country it doesn’t mean that you can’t take the occasional holiday! So, if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or tired or your current circumstances then why not treat yourself and take a little holiday in another part of the country.
For example, if you’re living in rural Tuscany, why not take a holiday in Florence or Rome? The change of scene will help you to fall back in love with Italy and when you get back home you’ll be feeling refreshed and ready to face the challenges of life as an Expat.
Take a Class.
When Expat fatigue starts to take hold why not take a few classes in something fun and new! For example, you could sign up for some cooking classes so you can start home cooking Italian food like a pro! Alternatively, you could take driving lessons or study Italian.
All of these will open up new possibilities in your life and help you to get back on your feet and live your life more fully in your newly adopted home. Self improvement is a highly effective way of supercharging your day to day life as well as being a fun way to meet new friends in your community; and what’s more, the people you will meet in your classes will share that interest with you which will make it easier to break the ice, even if you’re a little shy at first.
Set up a Blog or Instagram Account.
One of the ways to overcome Expat fatigue is to write about it! You can easily set up a blog or an Instagram account where you can share photos, stories and reflections on your life in Italy. As your profile grows you’ll start to meet and hear from other Expats who are following your work and you’ll soon be part of a community that you can talk to and share your experiences with.
It can be very cathartic to write about the events in your life, particularly if you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed. When you write about an experience it helps you to process it and see things in perspective.
Do Touristy Things!
Even if you’ve decided to move to a new country there is no reason why you shouldn’t do all the touristy things that attract visitors from all over the world! It’ll be fun to explore the museums, galleries and cultural landmarks but you can also do more adventurous activities such as paragliding or horse riding!
If you find yourself wondering where you should start you could always consider hiring a local guide. Not only will they be able to show you around but you’ll also be able to make friends and see how the locals live from an insider’s view.
Write a Journal.
You don’t necessarily need to share your writing with the world if you don’t want to. If you don’t want to share your thoughts then you can start writing a personal journal instead.
Writing a journal is a tried and tested way to ground yourself and learn from your own experiences. As you continue to keep your journal you’ll be able to reflect on how much you have learned and all the challenges that you’ve overcome since taking the brave step of becoming an Expat.
Take Pride in Your New Home!
A practical way to start overcoming Expat fatigue is to spend some time making your house as pretty and inviting as you can. You don’t necessarily need to be a master in Feng Shui, although it wouldn’t do any harm, but simply buying a few pot plants, some local artwork and decorations can make a huge difference to how you feel when you’re at home alone.
Once your home is looking better you’ll be able to relax and feel more comfortable there even if you’re going through a hard time at that moment in your work life or settling down in your new home country.
Make Friends with Other Expats.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, isolated or weary of your life in a foreign country then you can try joining up with some local Expat groups in your area. It’s always nice to speak with people who know about your homeland country and feel more familiar than the natives in your new home.
Meeting other Expats will also help you to get advice about how to overcome challenges, including anything from dealing with taxes and local regulations to where to go out for dinner and what to do at night!
Stay in Touch with Friends and Family Back Home.
It’s very important to stay connected with your friends and family back home while you’re away. Try to set up regular times to talk on the phone or over Skype so you don’t feel too isolated from your roots. This is especially vital if you’re feeling a little lonely or depressed and finding it hard to meet new people in your town. It’s always comforting to talk to your friends or family who can empathize with your situation while filling you in on the news back home.
Expat Fatigue is Only Natural But You Can Overcome It.
Life will always have its ups and downs no matter where you are living. You may have moved overseas because you were tired of your current situation back home to explore a new country but then discovered that things weren’t that bad at home afterall! These are common emotions among Expats but instead of allowing yourself to be consumed by these thoughts you should try to take matters into your own hands and start to take active steps towards improving your circumstances.
Most Expats will be faced with feelings of isolation, anxiety and Expat fatigue at some point during their long term overseas stay. The best way to deal with these feelings is to take conscious proactive steps to improve your life, meet new people and feel more at home in your new country.