I have been living my life in different places. Although it’s been mostly in Italy, in Milan, I have always had the chance to travel, whether it was for holiday, study or work purposes. First encouraged by my parents who well thought it was important to discover the world, know about other cultures and learn other languages to enrich ourselves and prepare for the future, as you never know what turn life could take. At the beginning I felt lucky, but a bit forced, and then little by little this desire to discover the world has become part of me. And now I actively seek these kind of experiences. That’s why lately I spent 2 years and a half living in working in Madrid, Spain, 3 years in Melbourne, Australia, and now I just recently moved to Zurich.
Every time you move, I think you go through different experiences, phases and emotional states. After my latest transfer to Spain first and to Australia second, I started realising there is actually a pattern in moving and adapting to a new country. I find it can be applied to many experiences I did, whether for the short or for the long run. It seems that people, by exchanging ideas with them, are feeling the same and that my theory may have some grounding.
I think each moving is characterised by 3 phases, with the option for a 4th one:
- FEELING AT HOME
- eventually, FALLING IN LOVE
1. EXCITEMENT PHASE: it usually lasts for 3 months. Usually when have you just moved, you’re feeling excited by the new country or city and by everything around you. You want to discover all that the new place has to offer. Everything is better in the new city vs home/the previous place, and in some cases you’re telling everybody!
2. ADAPTATION PHASE: it usually lasts for another 3 months. What happens is that you realise the ‘holiday feeling’ has left you and you’ll be actually living in the new place for quite some time. You start feeling maybe a bit homesick, you talk a lot with your friends & family back home, you maybe start criticising a but the new place. Everything was definitely better before, at home, when you knew everything around you, who to talk to, how to move.
3. FEELING AT HOME PHASE: this phase can last for an indefinite time. Suddenly you realise you’re living in the new place and you’re feeling at home again. You relax, you stress & worry less, you start getting involved with the local people a lot more, there’s less of writing and skyping with people back home or in the previous city. You actually start living your new life in the new place.
4. FALLING IN LOVE PHASE: this phase can either take place or not, it depends a lot on internal, but probably mainly external factors. If it’s the case, it happens all of a sudden, nobody tells you in advance. You then realise you’re living the life of your dreams or at least living in the city that has really welcomed you, where you truly feel yourself in that moment in life, where you have found your circle of friends. When you adopt your new city as your home, when you’re finally feeling truly at home.
For example, in my case with Madrid, it just happened after 9 months. If it’s not happening, maybe it’s not the right place for you or maybe it’s not love at first sight and it’s going to take a little longer or maybe it’s the right time to move on, if possible and feeling like it.
It seems to me that people are actually experiencing similar things, maybe with different timeframes, and going through similar phases, maybe calling them in a different way or not naming them at all.
What’s your experience?
Go back to Expat Life