Monthly Archives: November 2009

Gracias, Grazie, Merci, Спасибо: What am I thankful for in my expatriate life?

As the US prepares to celebrate one of its very important holidays — Thanksgiving — I too am thinking about what I am thankful for.  Especially since this year, as opposed to many other years, I actually get to spend Thanksgiving in the US and the mood of giving thanks is everywhere.

And so here is my list of what I am thankful for in my expatriate life:

  • I am thankful that I’ve been able to live in different countries and among other cultures;
  • I am thankful that as an expat I get to experience change — one of my big values — often and with a bang;
  • I am thankful for all the learning and new experiences I get when I move from place to place;
  • I am thankful for my family, which is the only constant in this process of perpetual moving;
  • I am thankful for the multitude of friends I have made and continue to make;
  • I am thankful for the social networking revolution that gives me a better chance to keep in touch with those friends;
  • I am thankful for the challenges I encounter because that’s what makes my experience fun.

This list can go on and on.  What about you?  What are you thankful for in your expatriate life?

People who read this post also read:

“What will I miss” list makes it easy to remember

Training and not failing: How our relationships can sustain us in expatriation?

What do expats look for?

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.
If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!

Cross-Cultural Training: Creating Foundations or Creating Judgments?

I coach expatriates and conduct cross-cultural trainings in a parallel fashion in my career. And what I’ve been noticing on more than one occasion is that many of my coaching clients — those who have gone through a cross-cultural training at one time or another — carry much stronger judgments than those who didn’t. That got me thinking — what’s the connection between the judgments and the cross-cultural training?

We’ve all heard the common clichés that populate people’s thinking about each other. “Russians drink too much”, “Americans are clueless about other cultures”, “French don’t want to speak any other language but French”, the list can go on and on. And while these clichés might be partially true — they do contain some truth in them — they are certainly NOT true when extended to the entire population. All Russians do not drink too much, all Americans are not clueless, and all French are not monolingual.

What I think happens during cross-cultural trainings is that these clichés — already rampant in the world — get confirmed when we, cross-cultural trainers talk about the problems that have created them. And in the mind of the unsuspecting client, a cliché and a problem, mentioned by a trainer, get “married” to produce a very strong judgment. Cliché by itself is one thing. Cliché confirmed by training is another.

I don’t need to go into details about why judgments are not beneficial for anyone entering another culture and preparing to live/work in it. Judgments bear misunderstandings, miscommunication, hurt feelings, and many other unpleasant things. A person with judgments is a person whose mind is no longer open. And we all know that an open mind is one of the major keys to success in another country/culture.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101: Tip 4 – Judgments are not Allowed

What makes repatriation difficult?

Moving again? Need packing “know-how”?

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.
If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!

Trailing and not Failing: How our relationships can sustain us in expatriation?

As many expatriate spouses do, I gave up my job when we decided to start traveling the world with Foreign Service.   I had a great job — the one that paid well and the one that was interesting — but then my husband got an opportunity that was too good  to pass on.  And so we decided that I can perhaps find something as we move from place to place.

The first country we went to ended up going through the recession less than a year after we got there, so getting a job in my profession in the local economy was not an option.  And that’s when I decided that I needed to re-invent myself.  Instead of looking for professional opportunities every place I landed, I decided to carry a professional “opportunity” with me.  That’s how I came across what I do now and I became an expatriate entrepreneur.

As it is with every type of entrepreneurship, succeeding financially takes a lot of time and a lot of effort.  It also takes working on the computer at night, having odd tasks at odd hours — especially if your clients live in different time zones — and taking some time from the family.  It is not a “9-to-5” kind if job and that’s where spouses and their attitudes come in.

How so?

In various ways.  But here I am going to focus on two: understanding and encouragement.

(1) Understanding. When you forgo a full-time job and choose working out of your home, you pretty much stay at home.  And, for some people, staying at home means that you are responsible for all the home tasks out there — cleaning, cooking, ironing, etc.  If you are working on a business, you probably have just as little (if not less!) time for all the home tasks than you fully-employed spouse does.  Yet you are expected to do them.   This expectation may create guilt on your part and criticism on your spouse’s part.  The same feelings surface when you work at night.  In the end neither your business nor your relationship benefit from them.

(2) Encouragement. We all know making money on an idea takes time.  Time and a lot of work.  So when you spend your mornings and your afternoons and your evenings growing your business, the last thing you want to hear from your spouse is the reference to how your business isn’t really a business but rather a hobby since you have not really made a dime.  Doesn’t do a lot in terms of encouragement, does it?  In fact, those comments often shut you down, even if they are meant as a joke.

What are your thoughts on this?

People who read this post, also read:

Culture Shock Revisited or Is It Really Just About Going Through the Stages

How to Leave without Regrets

7 Behavior Choices of a Happy Expat

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.

If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!