Most expatriates experience a wave of emotions throughout their assignment duration. There are many articles that discuss the typical expatriate adjustment cycle with many describing the typical phases of adaptation being:
- Culture Shock
But what about the term, expat fatigue? When does this emotional state come into the assignment experience?
Per Expat Child, "Change fatigue is a feeling of exhaustion, resignation and hopelessness and it happens when we’re bombarded with a series of changes in quick succession and don’t give ourselves the time or the space to make sense of them." It is more often felt further along in an assignment, after the excitement and newness has worn off, but you are still trying to grapple with a new job, office, home, culture and identity!
Sometimes referred to as a specific variation of 'change fatigue,' 'expat fatigue' is a real recognized condition. Expat fatigue is intimately woven with the process of adapting to a new culture, and most often experiences in that Culture Shock stage where there is some discomfort and disorientation related to that feeling of being a "fish out of water."
Homesickness and touches of depression are normal aspects of the expat assignment experience, but when it becomes more severe, help must be sought.
Looking for some strategies to deal with expat fatigue? Try this article from Living Abroad.
So what is ‘expat fatigue?’ It’s not a diagnosed illness, of course, and to an extent it’s an expected part of a major life transition – after all, moving house alone is supposed to be one of the three major stressors in modern life, along with bereavement and divorce. However, it is a recognised phenomenon, and it can have a significant impact on your life abroad.