Expat Survival Guide : It’s life… but not as you knew it
Expat Survival Guide
It’s life …. but not as you knew it
If you want everything to remain the same, moving abroad is not for you.
Your time abroad is going to change you: irrevocably. You will emerge a different person, shaped by the experiences awaiting you. It’s a scary thought!
Ultimately, this will be wonderful; you’ll ‘grow’ more than you can imagine. However, you’ll have times when you’ll feel as if your former identity has vanished, and that’s a very disturbing feeling. It’s a transition that some find more difficult than others.
Of course, there will be some ‘superficial’ things you’ll miss, but they’ll be there on your return. In fact, you’ll only appreciate the delights of home more for having been away: a revelation you may not truly appreciate until your first trip back after long absence.
As for beloved foodstuffs – like marmite, gravy granules or peanut butter – put them in your suitcase if you really can’t live without them. Mine is always full of M&S Empress Grey Tea and British cheese. Favourite TV programmes can be purchased as DVD box sets and online radio is a joy.
Far more difficult will be ‘giving up’ close contact with friends and family and the physical pleasure of get-togethers. Skype and email are worth their weight in gold; if your parents aren’t yet converts and you want to pursue this avenue with them, it’s down to you to set things up at their end and make all as simple as possible.
If you’re giving up your job to accompany your spouse, this can be especially hard. Of course, you can view this as an opportunity to pursue any secret ambitions (beyond baking cakes and keeping the floor clean) since you’ll probably have more time on your hands.
Go wild! Think about what you’d like to do: design clothes; write a book; start your own online enterprise; get fit; take art classes; join a choir or amateur dramatics group; or create a blog.
Have some business cards made up stating your name and contact details (Vista print offer this online); they’ll be useful to offer new friends. Perhaps add details of your existing or desired profession; you never know when contacts will present themselves.
Some career coaching could help you focus on new opportunities (www.netexpat.com).
Way up what you’re relinquishing (temporarily in most cases) against what will be gained and remember that we rarely regret our actions – only those paths never taken.
Part Two – The Truth About Saying Farewell to Friends and Family
Part Three – Infidelity and Relationships on the Rocks
Part Four – Tears and Tantrums – Helping Children Cope with the Transition
Part Five – Little Beasties – When Not to be a Welcoming Host
Part Six – Dealing with Danger