Indeed expatriation is an exhilarating experience: good wages, better working conditions, in short, good package however, it is challenging and very overwhelming too. Having butterflies in your stomach expresses the feelings most expatriates (veterans or first timers) face during relocation; they are caught between the euphoria of going to a new culture and the anxiety of the unknown.
I spent a better part of my early years moving from one town to another because my father was a police chief, it exposed me to different culture, beliefs and languages. Later on, I became a journalist and enjoyed the roving nature of the profession. I equally tried my hands on other trades ranging from sales rep, diplomatic service as assistant PRO and the hospitality business which I discovered by chance. I enjoyed them all.
My exposure prepared me for my life as an “Accompanying spouse” (expatriate’s spouse) and mother of 3 third culture kids (expatriate’s kids). I greeted my first posting with much enthusiasm. I was open minded about the move and didn’t think about cultural, social and interpersonal relationship differences until I got there and reality struck: l had a taste of the famous culture-shock and excitement gave way to desolation; then it dawned on me that expatriation was more than just pack and go. But thanks to my perseverance and strong personality networking and acclimatization didn’t take quite long.
I had to carve out a new life for myself in a foreign land with its cultural, social and interpersonal relationship differences, as well as other unforeseen issues; but my past experience came in handy. I had to house hunt, buy a car and settle in amidst huge administrative paperwork. In my expat community just like the other communities, there were activities to promote social networking among spouses but nothing to help new arrivals integrate into the local environment. Many spouses couldn’t tolerate the monotony from administrative stuff; shopping, domestic chores, driving kids to and from school or extra-curricular activities. Nervous breakdown, depressions, broken marriages and early termination of contracts due to poor acclimatization and lack of integration was common occurrence.
In order not to suffer the same fate, get on top of issues better and faster, I hired an expatriate life coach and this collaboration helped:
- Explain the mixed feelings and how to overcome them
- Accept it was perfectly normal to feel out of place in a foreign land
- Understand that culture shock was more than ordinary recollection of cultural attributes; every expat experiences it in various degrees
- Realize that I had to transit and embrace my host culture in order to facilitate integration
- And influenced my decision to train as an expat life coach so as to enable my international clients to transition smoothly into their host cultures.
If you are like me, you want to reap the fruits of your relocation, let’s talk and see how I can help you…