The Stages of Expat Life Explained...as far as I know
Whoa. Where has Tiffany been? One blog post in October? No way.
Well, I'd like to say that I was super duper busy or my computer cracked in half but the truth is that I just didn't feel like it. So here I am feeling a big invigorated by my lack of blog posting (but not by my lack of instragramming which is not a thing...I will always Instagram...mostly because it's quick and sometimes I'm a little lazy).
Okay, so I have been thinking and keeping a list of things to write to y'all about so there shouldn't be a shortage of mind blowing blog posts coming up. Excited? You are excited.
So lets move forward to:
THE STAGES OF BEING AN EXPAT.
Any expat will tell you that being an expat can be a confusing, trying, happy, sad, entertaining and horrifying experience. There are times where you'll be dancing and chatting with people from all over the world and you think to yourself, "this is amazing! I'm living my dreams!" and then the very next day you'll be binge watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians and sobbing silently into the blanket you bought from Walmart.
Well, as someone who has moved to another country you will go through four stages with the last stage ushering you into confident, traveling expat. Now this is not to say that they run on some sort of timetable or that you can't pass Go type of thing. You'll meander through the four stages or at least two stages nearly all the time. SO when you get through one...chances are you'll be revisiting it soon.
Personally, I've been here for a little over two months and sometimes I feel like I know what I'm doing and I'm successfully transitioning and then other times I just stare at the wall with silent tears rolling down my face...all dramatic like.
OKAY so the first stage:
The Honeymoon Stage- You just moved in and everything is new and cool and exhilarating. You're mostly running off of adrenaline and sleep deprivation to really miss anything from home too much. You're overwhelmed and you also feel a bit like a tourist because you're going to all the major places around town that the tourists visit. You don't have a favorite restaurant and you're still intrigued by figuring everything out. Everything is funny and nothing is irritating and you're taking a lot of pictures. Hah! Buying the wrong size trash bin bags is something to laugh about. This can last for probably a few weeks to a month.
Now we move on to the second stage...
The Homesickness Stage-
This is the stage where you wake up in a sad/bad mood because you miss things and people from home so badly that you feel like you can barely function. You want to go to your favorite restaurant with your friends and walk to the movie theatre like you used to. You want so badly to chat with your family or go to the park or even do simple things like go for a walk. It colors everything around you and can make you regret your decision for moving to wherever you've moved. You stop taking pictures and buying the 5th wrong sized trash bin bags makes you cry.
On a personal note, I went through this pretty hardcore for several weeks. I would go to sleep sad and wake up sad. I missed my family and friends so hardcore that I didn't feel like there was an ounce of me that wanted to stay any longer. This is the hardest stage for any expat and if you can make it most of the way out of this, you should make it. That's not to say that it wont revisit you from time to time, however. Because it totally will.
(Obviously there are no pictures from this stage).
The next stage is..
The Coping Stage-
Here in the coping stage you'll find yourself making some friends with other expats or even some locals. They can show you their favorite hangouts, restaurants or customs and you start to feel like you can do this. You can, in fact, live abroad! You're following the news of the town in which you live, you have a favorite restaurant, you know where to buy books, you know which grocery store has your favorite brand of hummus, etc.
The annoyances of the city in which you're living just make you shrug your shoulders now and you just say to yourself "Oh ______(insert city name) i wouldn't expect anything less".
You start taking pictures again and you've got a routine down. You communicate with people back home on a regular basis and maintain your new life abroad. You start going for walks and going to events. You only buy the wrong sized trash bin bags on occasion now and you just think "hmm...maybe next time I'll get it".
You're starting to get happy and confident about your decision and you're starting to see the benefits of moving abroad.
I feel like I'm definitely still in this stage and I have no idea how long it'll be. I still miss my family and my friends but it isn't this disabling ache any longer and I feel like we're actually starting to move forward in establishing our lives here. I already feel like I'm learning so much from working and living here...not only as a teacher but as a person...a daughter, a sister, a friend and a wife.
The last stage is called the Living Stage. I'm not there yet so I can't give you an insiders view but basically you feel like you know what you're doing. You know the in's and the out's and you've made amends with them and your new country. You might even speak the language!
I'm not there yet but I know a handful of Arabic phrases and a lot of hope for the future.
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