Posted By on 26/08/2012
Over my first months as an expat, friends and family were naturally very curious to know how my life in a new country was going. In the beginning, I had only great reports.
I had an extended honeymoon period when I became an expat in Bogotá, Colombia. My life there started well, and very fast: In my first week, I found a place to live and began working. As I met people, I made friends quickly. After two months of freelance work, I had built up a nearly full schedule. I was also getting to know a new city in a new country, and finding lots to enjoy.
Every day was exciting. I constantly had challenges; I was constantly learning. I had reasons to keep my eyes open. I had fun.
A lot of my experience was, I think, universal. Much of the excitement I felt was because of everything new around me. That should be available to any expat anywhere in the world.
But I had good luck, too, which kept the good feelings going for a while. Professionally, socially, and in almost every way, my first six months as an expat were perfect. Good people and good work kept me occupied and happy.
With time, that faded. After about half a year in Colombia, I began to feel truly settled. I had fallen into routines, which were comforting, but not exciting. I had a few bad experiences—nothing terrible, but I was pickpocketed twice and had several maddening interactions with government officials. And my work and friends, like work and friends anywhere, at times drove me crazy.
I also got to know Bogotá, and Colombia, better. Especially through Colombian friends and colleagues, I learned about my new country in ways I hadn’t immediately, when I was on my own. I began to see Colombia, not only through my eyes, but also through theirs.
The end of my honeymoon period didn’t come because of anything terrible. It came because honeymoon periods necessarily come to an end. Life anywhere, with more and more time, resembles life everywhere. The amazing parts fade—and the terrible parts fade too. All the things that had excited me in my first weeks and months became normal in time.
Any expat lucky enough to start off well in a new country has, I’m sure, eventually experienced this. Being an expat means not being on vacation. The beginning may be as exciting as vacation, but expat life is life nonetheless, and life has a way of becoming normal in time, for better or worse.