Last week I wrote about 10 ways to combat expat fatigue and get through the expat plateau. The expat plateau is that point you reach after the newness and scramble of getting settled that first year wears off and you’re left facing the reality of everyday life. This can lead to expat depression or feelings of regret, but it doesn’t have to.
I wrote to my favourite podcast The Bittersweet Life, a podcast that discusses issues people face when living abroad, to see what they thought about the expat plateau and if they had any advice on how to get through it. Katy Sewall and Tiffany Parks dedicated an entire episode to my question and discussed all sorts of reasons of why someone would reach this sort of plateau and how you can try to get through it. Even if they felt like they were going back and forth on their advice and not really providing anything concrete, I think their discussion was excellent and gave me a lot to think about.
The expat plateau that one reaches when living abroad can be caused by a lot of things. Tiffany and Katy mentioned that sometimes we choose to leave our home and move abroad because we want to break free from an idea of ‘normalcy’. But once you get to that other country and settle down, your life can return to that routine of life and for some serial expats that means boredom and then they’re off to the next country. Or maybe the plateau is simply a period of slowing down after that first year of intense growth and you’re finally getting used to life in your new place. Or perhaps even the plateau means that your heart is telling you that this won’t be your permanent home and you might want to think about living somewhere else.
For me, listening to them discuss my question and let themselves meander over different suggestions that might apply to my situation, made me realise something. I definitely don’t want to leave Ischia, and even though living on an island can be tough, especially in the winter when you need to go to Napoli and the sea is rough and you suffer from sea sickness, it feels like home. I’ve lived in cities most of my adult life (Mexico City, New York City, London, and Rome) and one thing I don’t miss about city-living is how anonymous one can be in the city. Here in Ischia, life goes beyond family and your inner circle of friends. You really feel a sense of community and close to life. The negative side of this is that everyone can know and talk about you and it could take some time getting used to it, but I think the positive sides far outweigh the negative.
Choosing to move abroad and live your life in a different language is tough and there are complicated decisions to make and you may have to deal with a lot of uncertainty. But it’s totally worth it and living a life abroad really teaches you how to face your fears and follow your heart.
I really recommend you listen to this episode and even if you’re not in a similar situation, you can definitely get a lot of insight. Follow this link to listen to this episode of The Bittersweet Life.
Thank you so much Katy and Tiffany for your wonderful podcast and for trying to help me out.