Wednesday, April 9, 2014

When Expats Stop Blogging

When a colleague of mine, at a recent conference, explained that she was doing research on expat bloggers living in London, I felt a blush coming on. For two reasons, actually. I thought about this blog of mine and, at first, about the long loooong time I'd been spending away from it. And, then, about how typical anyone researching my blog must find it. And, being a researcher myself I found the two ideas intriguing, especially since I had a strong suspicion they were closely linked.

It all starts with why expats pick up blogging in the first place. Their motives do vary, though most of the expat bloggers I know have been doing so for two reasons combined. First off, there's a certain wow element to settling down and setting up business in a foreign country. Wow not necessarily in the sense that people would marvel wide eyed at your success, but rather because, at least at first, new experiences jump right at you from every nook and cranny -- and it's so much nicer to share them with friends and family... and the world wide web. =) Second, there are particularities to expat life, and though some find a welcoming, buzzing life waiting for them, many struggle to come to terms with their new surroundings. Sometimes, with too much free time on one's hands sharing those experiences with a friendly and compassionate audience is all the more appealing.

That's something I've been through, and though I'd never want to wipe that period out of my personal history, I'm so much happier with my life now. Mostly because it resembles a life, but also because feeling all those inner and external conflicts evaporate is just so liberating. Recent events (I'll be posting about these two ballots soon) made me realize that first, I could never go back to Hungary; and second, I will never be completely and utterly accepted as one of the Swiss either. Facing these have been hard, but also, again, liberating in a huge way. I could let go of my leaking safety boats and let the wind fill my sails. It should have left me sad, or even afraid, but it didn't. You see, if you're not putting all your trust in a way out, your current situation becomes all the more real and enjoyable. It's no longer something conditional and temporary, dragged down by a lot of ifs and buts, it's yours and it's now.

And that's when living life becomes a more important pastime than complaining and marveling about it. I know that's harsh, and it was a shocking reality to me too. Letting go of my escape routes made me realize what I want, made me crave it too. It made me work day and night on a life I'd only thought a dream, an option that became real because it was the only one remaining. I had to do it, without thinking, without taking the time to consider how magnificent it all was, how brave I've become -- lest I lose my courage.

I have no idea how others have been doing. It's not something people often write about. Some stop blogging, because they meet a partner, have kids or a demanding job -- all in all, find a place to fit in. Others leave the country for new adventures or a more restful period back home. Or simply disappear from sight. I don't pretend I know how they feel, how could I? Not that I'd want to. Expatting is so personal, so individual an experience, I'd never want to do that.

And yet, I can't help but feel that there's a general truth behind all this. I've found that in order to build up a new life, you have to be 100% true to yourself. Be honest. How much of your old life can you keep? How much would you care to keep? What are your dreams and what if you were really to make them true? What is this new place and how do you feel about it? What would make it feel like home? Who do you want to be if you can be anything and anyone in this new life? No, stop blabbering, this is for real. There's no such thing as an expat, no category you can hide behind. Once you can see that, you have to make a decision. (To begin with, then make a hundred more.) Give it some time and thought, and clearly formulate a definition of who you are.

Now the question is whether blogging has a place in that.



  1. I think that to blog regularly you need to have to have a stable life. That means, stable job or income, stable residence and personal life (relationship). If any of these things are up and down or you are transient and moving around a lot, it's just impossible. To blog regularly like a schedule you need a routine and if your own life is unstable with no routine you can't do it. Also I think if you want to take blogging seriously you have to think of it as a full time thing which means it's incompatible if you have a full time job, which is why most stay at home mommy bloggers (or anyone who is at home most of the time) seem to be so successful.

    1. Thanks for your comment, P. It's a very interesting and valid point you're bringing up there. And I do agree up to a point.

      In my opinion it really depends on the type of blog you're running. As for me, I've never really been interested in the kinds of things stay at home moms blog about, but that being said I've run across a couple of amazing blogs run by them. True, the quality of their posts is just way above all that a part time blogger can produce. On the other hand, I've long been fascinated by bloggers and youtubers who manage to keep readers updated despite their tight schedules and super busy lifestyle. I love love love their accounts of 24 hours of work, social life, hobbies and professional trips, and then they manage to squeeze in a vlog or a review... wow. That's not to say moms have more free time on their hands, far from it. I'm simply not the kind of audience they're writing for.

      I can't say I'm taking blogging too seriously, to be honest. Or that I want to be successful, either. What drives me is to share content (mostly factual information or a well informed opinion) to help others make shopping decisions, plan trips, or have an idea about life in Geneva. I do admit that like to hear my own voice (though I've become quite good at overcoming the urge) and share my views, but that's only a secondary motive in my case. Above all I wish to inform, and I don't mind if people drop in only to read one or two of my posts. :)

      Blogging is also a very solitary and lonely thing in my eyes. Sure, you can interact with others, but I much prefer the times in my life when I don't have the time or energy to post. It often means things are picking up and I'm living life instead of writing about it. That kind of explains my awe for busy part time bloggers, I guess. :)

      My professional blog is a completely different matter. I try to take that as seriously as possible, and maintain it diligently. I don't really think of it as a blog, however, it's more like an unofficial publication on my research. I do hope it will be successful, but that doesn't really depend on reader stats.

      Thank you very much for commenting, and for the link, which I've saved. I'll be checking your blog regularly, you're running a very engaging account of local and global issues! ;)

      All the best


  2. Yes, you are so true. You should be true with yourself!