When I moved to Italy over a year ago, I had never heard of an expat coach. I didn't know there was an entire industry around helping people adjust to live abroad.
I struggled. If you've read my content on this journey, you know that at times, it was very difficult for me, adjusting my expectations to line up with the reality of living in rural Italy.
If I'd known then the magic that an expat coach can offer, I would have jumped at the opportunity to work with one. I did find one earlier this year, and she was incredibly helpful to me. I just wish I'd found her sooner.
1. Expat Coaches GET It.
Expat coaches, by their very nature, are expats. They've moved one or more times abroad, and they understand the specific emotions that you'll go through.
They have strategies to help you cope with loneliness, depression, and isolation.
2. Before Your Move, They Can Set Expectations
This is where I really could have used help. Before the move, I thought I was pretty familiar with Italy and its idiosyncrasies.
And it wasn't a total shock when I arrived in terms of how things were done. But what was a shock was how resistant I was to accepting things.
I struggled to let go of my American expectations. It's been frustrating, to say the least, to see things that could be run so much more efficiently, the way they are in the U.S.
Take my gym, for example. You pay for each class type you want to take and you pay separately for the actual workout room. So if I want to take Pilates twice a week, it's €45 for the month. If I also want to take another class...I have to pay another €45 for the month. If I want to work out...that's another €30. Where's the all-you-can-work-out buffet we have in the U.S.???
I digress...because expat coaches have been through it all, they can work with you before you hop on that plane to make sure you understand that your American expectations have no home where you're headed.
3. They Can Root You to Your Values
This is something I love doing with my expat coaching clients. I think it's easy to forget what's important to you when you feel adrift in a new land. That's why I like to have my clients make a list of their values so they can be reminded of who they are, even when they are changing to adapt to their new homes.
Values speak to who we are and what's important. For me, community is important. I didn't have one my first months here, and I didn't feel like myself. But once I started building my community of like-minded folks, I began to feel like ME.
4. They're There to Listen
Becoming an expat is lonely in more ways than one. Your friends will root for you on your adventure...but they won't get it. All they'll see is the selfies shot in front of the Coliseum. They won't see you near tears at the post office trying to explain that you need to send a letter and being unable to communicate that need clearly. They won't see the days when leaving the house is just too much to bear because out there, you have to acknowledge that you're in a completely foreign world.
It's lonely when no one understands this struggle. But having an expat coach to vent to, to share with, that's priceless. She understands the struggle. It's like a tiny club of people who were crazy enough to uproot their lives and begin again.
5. They Provide Clarity
When my coaching clients have big aha moments because of something I said, I just laugh and tell them all I did was repeat back to them something they said.
With my own coach, I'm amazed at some of the things she's reflected back to me. We often don't really hear ourselves, and it's enlightening to have someone reflect our own thoughts back to us because then we really hear it.
Speaking with my coach has helped me see things through a new lens. Where I used to try to push things into happening on my timeline and in my way, she showed me that this past year, I've managed to let go and allow the flow. That's a major sense of accomplishment for me!
I thought I could successfully navigate this move abroad on my own, but it has been priceless to have the help of an expat coach on this journey.
If you're thinking about moving abroad, let me tell you: you will benefit from the help of a coach. If you're interested in learning more about how I might be able to help you, please reach out and let's chat.