The subject of Expat Fatigue appears frequently on Facebook expat groups and other forums. It comes in various forms, and often more than once during the assimilation process.
Expat Fatigue is what happens when the initial bloom wears off and you are left with just day to day life. When the food is no longer a new experience every time and you start remember those comfort food items you have a hard time finding. Maybe you have to climb yet another bureaucratic hurdle, or your initial enthusiasm over learning Italian faded as it got to the hard stuff. There comes a time when the vacation is over and you are living everyday life in a new country. Everyone will go through this in one form or another.
The way in which people deal with this varies. Some people end up closing up into expat centric groups and activities. Depending on where you live and the total population of expats, this can be either easy, or leave you in a small clique. Others jump willingly into the deep end of the pool take advantage of the culture and lifestyle. Much will depend on why the individual came to Italy to begin with.
Either way, the important thing is to find your place in order to thrive.
Ways to combat expat fatigue
- Shop only at your local shops for a while. When you do this, you will not only help the local economy, you will get to know the shopkeepers and after one or two visits, they will recognize you.
- Find a coffee shop and become a semi regular.
- Look for classes and day trips. Facebook seems to be full of people advertising cooking, crafts, history walks and more. This will mix you with other expats and Italians as well.
- Don’t forget why you came here. You can travel in Italy for the rest of your life and never uncover all the secrets.
- Never be afraid to make mistakes. It is very much part of the process and eventually, you will compare your best doozies with other expats.
It will pass….
The thing to remember is that this is just mental exhaustion. You will reach various obstacles at various times. In learning the language, you will likely feel from time to time that you will never improve further. But then perhaps you look back and realize that when you first arrived, you sat in your car and rehearsed before going into a shop. Now you just jump right in without a worry. Eventually you will be the old hand expat giving the newbies tips on how to make bureaucracy a little less scary. I repeat, do not be afraid to make mistakes. Italians have a well deserved reputation for being incredibly patient and forgiving.
We moved into a small village, and a local person gave us very valuable advice. Just two words. Be Seen! Find reasons to just go out. Take you water bottles to fountain to fill up. Get a coffee or soft drink. Pick something up, no matter how small at the local tabaccheria. The local people will greet you each and every time. It will take a while, but they will take you in. Tell them you are still learning Italian. They will say piano piano, slowly slowly.