Expat life is not as easy and smooth as many people think. In the infographic here below are listed several issues expats can encounter during their international journey.
A part from the more external factors like economy, political uncertainety, the high cost of living and bureaucracy, expacts are more vulnerable to stress, homesickness and related side-effects (like depression etc.).
Sooner or later, everyone on an international journey will experience the different stages of expatriate adjustment and it’s very important to take them seriously because they can affect parents and children and everyone goes through them in its own paste.
The time it takes to go from one stage to the other depends on every single person. Sometimes the honeymoon phase lasts longer, sometimes shorter. The same applies to all the other stages. An important point to consider for families is that when they envisage this kind of life, they should prefer longer stays in a new location in order to give their children the opportunity to pass from a “gradual adjustment” to the “competence stage” and, in the best case, to the “mastery” (after 5-7 years). – In the expatriate adjustment lifecycle on this infographic I miss the stage of repatriation.
Repatriation is an “important yet often overlooked component of a successful assignment experience“. During repatriation, expats face exactly the same stages as those listed in this infographic and the repatriation can be as challenging and traumatic as the first relocation. Especially for children who have spent a significant amount of their lives overseas (and maybe have never lived in their passport country), repatriation is very difficult. Many repatriating families feel “culturally, socially and professionally out of sync with their new environment”.
It is very important to re-establish a social life as soon as possible in the first period of a relocation. This also helps against homesickness and culture-shock. Before entering this phase, i.e. while still in the “honeymoon phase”, expats should try to find like-minded people who can help them cope with the culture-shock phase (or the reverse culture shock phase for those who repatriate). – Culture-shock is the period of adjustment a person goes through, when realizing that the new culture is different (worse?) from that (or those) he experienced before. This phase comes with periods of alienation, frustration and homesickness, but its impact can be minimized.
This infographic shows the sense of humour like something that “many brits abroad” seem to miss. This really applies to everyone, Brit or not. Finding someone who laughs at the same jokes or at the same scenes in a movie gives us all a sense of belonging.
In this infographic, 70% “of expats say that social media contacts with friends and family helps to relieve homesickness”. I think social media are a great help in staying in touch with old friends or getting in touch with new ones. But it can also deter from approaching people in real life. Expats need even more to be proactive and to make contact with locals and like-minded people in their new location, to re-establish a new social life and create a safe haven where they can reach out for help if needed.
If you’re facing issues like those mentioned in the infographic or know someone who might need some help, here are some sites to visit and contact (in alphabetical order):
This is NOT a sponsored post and I have NOT been asked to write it.
- Expats infographic (expatsincebirth.com)
- Moving Abroad? How to Find Other Expats To Make Your Transition Smoother (epicatravel.com)
- Networking abroad (marianvanbakel.wordpress.com)
- How to cope with repatriation (expatsincebirth.com)
- Expatriates Challenges Are Solved with Measurable Results (relonavigator.wordpress.com)
- The emotionally resilient expat [by Linda Janssen]. (3rdculturechildren.com)
- The Expatriate Adjustment Lifecycle: What you should know (rw-3.com)
- Sea Change Mentoring: Symposium on Supporting Global Youth (expatsincebirth.com)