Becoming an expatriate, whether for career or personal reasons, can be an exciting experience for some, and a daunting experience for others. A lot of this experience will have to do with who made the decision to go abroad, where you are relocating to, what you will be doing, and how long you will be living abroad.
In order to have a successful expatriate experience, you must be willing to fully prepare yourself to leave your comfort zone behind and step into a completely new world. You might have to:
- Learn a new language
- Co-exist with people who have completely different beliefs than you
- Adapt to new cultures
- Develop a support social system fast
- Try new cuisines
- Move into a new home
- Get the kids into new schools
- Help them make new friends
- Change your entire lifestyle
You might be shocked by the poverty where people have to scavenge in the garbage containers for scraps of food in contrast to the lavish lifestyles of their compatriots and even yours. You might feel that, in comparison with them, you should feel shame for thinking you have a reason to feel so miserable and not happy and yet you can’t snap out of it.
While you will be saying hello to many new experiences, you will also be saying goodbye to many old ones. Even if only temporarily, you will likely miss your family, friends, coworkers, pastimes, hobbies, service providers, and creature comforts of your own home. You may even find yourself yearning for simple pleasures, such as your evening stroll down the street in your own familiar neighborhood or being able to buy your favorite food
When you go abroad with immediate family, you will have to not only adapt to your own lifestyle, but you will also have to help your family adapt as well. For children, depending on their age, this can be an especially difficult challenge, as you will have to face with them missing their school, friends, relatives, and limited food groups for picky eaters. If you go abroad without your family, you will have to find ways to stay in touch and help them adjust to life without you on a temporary basis. We understand how much stress this can create.
Sometimes, when a spouse finds work, the other one has to leave behind a professional career. If they can’t find work in the new country, they may experience the “trailing spouse syndrome.” It can lead to feelings of isolation, stress, uselessness, and depression. This can bring shame, especially when you see other expat spouses who either have jobs or seem to have adjusted well to their new lives. You may also find your spouse changing, associating with people you can’t connect with, making you attend social events, and emotionally distancing from you. Being misunderstood and avoided by the one you cherish most can deeply damage your relationship. You may end up feeling alone— lonely not only in your new country, but also in your relationship.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when it comes to being an expatriate. Fortunately, if you are having troubles with preparing for or living with the expatriate lifestyle, expatriate counseling can help. If you are abroad, online expatriate counseling is available as well. You don’t need to suffer when help is available.
Email us today to see if online counseling is the right fit for your current needs. One of our professional goals is to help expatriates and their families adjust to and thrive in their new lives. Let us help you, too.