Living Strong Abroad: Alone on a Desert Island


An article for all of us Expats who have suffered the living abroad blues…we are not alone!

It’s true, Lima isn’t an island, but sometimes it can feel like it. As an expat, we can experience different levels of isolation at any given moment.

Leaving our friends behind and having to make new ones.
Communication barriers.
An inability to pursue our career.
The distance from family and not being able to be home for ‘œbig’ moments.

I have felt all of these at some point in my six years in Lima, but it didn’t really hit me until someone on Facebook shared an interesting article about the emotional pain behind areas we most prefer to have massaged. I have always loved having my hands rubbed. I think more than any other part of my body. And guess what? It’s related to Isolation. Granted, I don’t have a lot of pain per se in my hands, but there’s not much else which can relax me so quickly.

Some days I deal with the isolation better than others. But when someone passes away or a dear friend gets married and I can’t be there, well, those moments are much more difficult. As expats, I think there is something that links most of us. Perhaps it’s a sense of adventure or a strong will/sense of independence. Even so, we still want to be there for others; it’s just that need wasn’t strong enough to keep us ‘œhome.’ While for some the move may only be a temporary circumstance, for others it’s a complete change of life. Either way, the absence of our closest circle of friends and family is felt.

(Photo: Pixabay)

This distance isn’t all doom and gloom and depression, though. It has its sweetness as well. The sweetness of seeing our loved ones after being away for so long. The memories we share, the joy of the time we do have together. We share on a level that is deeper and more meaningful than if we lived just next door or down the road. We just appreciate it more for the brevity.

Someone wrote to me after one of my articles mentioning that there is something about moving to a new place and enjoying it more than the locals. Not because we are better people, but because it is new to us. We get out, we explore, we take it all in. When we live somewhere for so long it becomes commonplace, we take it for granted. And so it is with our relationships. Perhaps the distance is just the thing we need to feel the love more deeply and to be more present when we are actually surrounded by those we care about most.

Here’s to love, near and far, and creating community wherever you are.




Jo Self is Peru’s only Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and is on a mission to disrupt the status quo and raise a Strengths-Based Generation. She believes in a world where everyone can live to their full potential, talents aren’t wasted & happiness is contagious. As a mompreneur & expat living in Peru, she understands the challenges and rewards that both entail. When she’s not helping others create extraordinary lives, she can be found at the sewing machine, at the movies, enjoying a glass of wine with friends or horsing around with her terribly precocious little boy, affectionately known as O. or