Posts Tagged ‘isolation’

Three Ways to Beat the Expat Blues

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

By Cherrye Moore

Last week fellow ACC blogger and expat, Chantal Panozzo of One Big Yodel wrote five tips to help expats fight isolation abroad. Her tips were right on the mark and in fact, I did many of those things to help with my own isolation when I moved to southern Italy.

But sometimes expats relocate to a country,or in my case, a part of the country, where they truly are very much alone.

When I moved to Calabria in April, 2006-happy anniversary, Me!-I fully expected to be able to quickly and easily meet new people. I did everything experts tell you to do-I joined a gym, I frequented the same places, I was open to making new friends.

But it didn’t work.

In addition to Chantal’s tips, here are three more things I expats can do when they are in an under-expat-populated community.

1. Teach a Private English Class

Teaching private English lessons is the number one thing I did that helped me make friends and meet new people in Calabria. My very first student, a freelance photojournalist, introduced me to his wife and now, years later, the two of us are still friends. I also met some of my favorite people, a family with four children, through teaching English and one of my closest expat friends found me through an ad someone placed for me in a bookstore.

In fact, I can trace the largest percentage of my friends in Calabria back to these lessons.

2. Join an Expat Forum

Expat forums are an easy, non-threatening way to introduce yourself and find more expats in your area. The very first expat I met saw a posting I had made on the Expats in Italy forum and emailed me telling me she was only 45 minutes away. Now, 45 minutes may seem far to those of you in big cities or metropolitan areas, but here in Calabria, meeting an expat an hour away, is like getting a great new neighbor.

3. Look up Expats on Facebook

It is strange to see how much the Internet has changed since I moved to Italy, but new expats have so many more opportunities for meeting like-minded people than we did four years ago. If I was a new expat today, I’d go on Facebook and search for groups or fan pages for Italy and start talking. Once you meet two or three people, you can see who their friends are and, ask them if they know people in your area and easily get connected.

What other tips do you have to help expats in less popular areas meet new people?

Cherrye Moore is a Calabria travel consultant and freelance writer living in southern Italy. She writes about expat life for Affordable Calling and about living and traveling in southern Italy on her site, My Bella Vita.

(photo: Mr.Happy on Flickr)

How to Fight Isolation Abroad

Monday, April 12th, 2010

There are many ways to fight loneliness abroad

by Chantal Panozzo

Loneliness. Even the most outgoing expat is going to have their moments. One of the hardest things about living abroad is being far from former support groups like family and friends. Here are five ways to help you fight isolation abroad:

-Write a blog. I’ve written about the benefits of blogging before, but writing a blog can make you feel like you’re part of a larger community and can also lead to making friends.If you live in Switzerland, Swiss Expat Bloggers is an organization of over 100 expats that blog. All you have to do to join is start a blog.

-Join a club. Maybe you don’t speak the local language so joining a local club, music group, or sports team may be difficult. But there are plenty of expat organizations that welcome new members. For a good list of clubs in Switzerland, visit the the Swiss News listing on their website.

-Invite your neighbor over. Many Swiss people will wait until you come to them first. They might be secretly hoping to meet you, but you’ll never know until you go knock. And don’t worry about your language skills. When my neighbor and I get together, we keep the German-English dictionary close by. Getting to know the people you live near is key to feeling more at home.

-Take a language class. There are many ways to learn a language without spending money on a class. But if you take a class you’ll meet a group of people and feel a sense of belonging. This can help with fighting isolation while also allowing you to gain the skills necessary to make you feel less foreign in the long run.

-Get a job or volunteer. Getting a job—even a part-time one—can help you become part of the community in a way many of the above just can’t. Most likely, you’ll meet international people as well as locals and gain insights into a culture that only a foreign office can provide.

How do you fight isolation abroad?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

Why Write an Expat Blog?

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Writing a blog can help with isolation abroad

By Chantal Panozzo

Many expats start a blog as a way to connect with family and friends back home. It’s also a great way to write about the isolation you may be feeling, the crazy experiences you have, and the wonderful travel opportunities expat life provides.

But, if you’re like me, all of this will soon turn into something even more. An expat blog is a great way to meet people, make friends, and it might even get you a job. In other words—you never know where your lowly blog may take you. For expat blogger Catherine Sanderson, it was a six-figure book deal.

I started One Big Yodel back in August of 2006 with one reader: my mom. Since then, my blog has led to radio interviews, a job writing for, and more. Because of my blog, I have become a bigger part of Switzerland and met more people than I ever thought possible. But most importantly, I love to write, communicate with my readers, and start discussions.

So why should you start a blog? Let me count the ways:

-To keep a journal of your time abroad

Jessica, of Swisstory, used to make books from her blog using Blurb. Her blog served as an important journal and scrapbook for her time in Switzerland.

-To help other expats

When you learn something or find resources that help you, it’s great to be able to share them and help other expats. Readers will thank you for it.

-To meet people

While people are thanking you for your great blog, you might just make some friends in the process. I’ve lost count of how many readers I’ve met for a coffee and it’s great to put faces with screen names.

But enough about what I think. Why do you blog?

Chantal Panozzo is a writer in Switzerland who has written for a variety of publications on two continents. She’s the author of One Big Yodel, a blog about life in Switzerland and moving abroad, and also discusses living abroad as a freelancer at Writer Abroad.

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