Monthly Archives: February 2012

8 mistakes expats make that can leave them feeling disconnected

by Margarita

One of the biggest challenges of an expat lifestyle is feeling disconnected – from the life you leave behind, from people and events in your current place of residence, from family and old friends back home, and even from those who surround you.  If you are an expat right now, how strong is the feeling of being disconnected in you on a scale of 1 to 10?  Are you somewhere between 4 and 10?

If you are, read on and let me know if these eight mistakes resonate with you!

Mistake 1.  You have very high expectations that people back home will continue to want and initiate consistent interaction with you.   We all miss our friends/family when we move, but face it – we left.  They stayed behind and they moved on with their lives.  They’ve substituted the vacuum you left in their lives with something/someone else and they are doing just fine.  It’s harder for you, of course, because you are the new kid on the block. Sure they’ll be there for you when you need them, but for heaven’s sake – don’t expect them to get in touch with you as often as they did in the past – and don’t sulk if they don’t.  Remember that it’s now up to you to initiate and maintain contact.  You are the one who has left.

Mistake 2. Somehow, somewhere you’ve decided that making new friends isn’t your strength.  Fair enough – some of us are more outgoing than others, but make sure you realize that perspective is everything.  It colors the lens you use to look at the world.  So if your current perspective is “I suck at making new friends”, you will suck at it.  Change your perspective and you’ll be surprised to see how things change around you.

Mistake 3. You decided that you only want strong, intimate connections and you are not interested in anything else.  It’s your choice, of course, and there is nothing wrong with wanting to create lasting friendships.  But are you sure you are giving everyone a chance?  How do you know that someone who doesn’t seem “the material” now isn’t going to turn into a dear friend?  Stranger things have happened in the world.  Make sure you are open to every possibility that comes your way.

Mistake 4.  You think your to-do list is too long and you just have no time to get out and get to know people.  It’s a classic one – how many times have we used our to-do lists as an excuse not to do something that seems challenging, uncomfortable, or scary to us?

Mistake 5.  You take trips home every 3-4 weeks for a vacation, just a visit, or… just because.  Another classic – and another very strong reason for not feeling connected either at home or at your new place of residence.  Commit to one of those places and grow your connections there.

Mistake 6. You feel uncomfortable chatting up to people because your language skills are not perfect.  This may be a good place to train yourself to let go of expecting yourself to be perfect – in languages and anywhere else.  Besides, how else would you improve your speaking ability if not by speaking to people?

Mistake 7.  You engage in unfavorable comparisons of your current place of residence with home (or with the one you left).  We all heard that the “grass is always greener on the other side”, but guess what?  Yours would be green too if you only watered it enough.  So forget about how your new home doesn’t stack up to your previous home and stop the comparisons.  Instead find the beauty where you are.

Mistake 8.  You use social media like there is no tomorrow.  Lots of people adore Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc, etc, etc (I don’t even come close to knowing all the social networking sites out there), but life still mostly happens on the outside and the connections you make on the outside are the ones that are going to nurture you.  Your 1000+ friends on Facebook will forgive you if you engage in the outside world.  So what are you waiting for?

Which mistakes resonate with you?  And what additions may you have?

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“What do people think I do” meme for accompanying expat women

by Margarita

After seeing this meme make the rounds on Facebook, I thought — why not create something that highlights the experience so many women have when they accompany their spouses on expatriate assignments.   Here is what I came up with:

Recognize yourself?

If you do – and you want a  much better experience of your expat life than the one you see in the last frame, join our Expat Women Academy.  See you there!

What can “sh*t people say” videos can teach us about being an expat?

by Margarita

Recently a wave of viral videos hit YouTube.  “Sh*t” people said — and by people I mean every possible group out there — was everywhere.  Some of them were better than others in terms of humor, production quality, acting, etc but what was interesting about them was that these videos took stereotypes and cliches and amplified them.

I thought — why not do a similar thing?  Why not take the expat women and expat men and create a couple of videos to amplify a few things that those two groups are known for saying?  Why not laugh at ourselves?

I don’t pretend to be a comedienne and I am certainly not a filmmaker. 🙂 But I penned a script of sayings that I either remember hearing or things I’ve said myself and hired some actors.  The result was “Sh*t Expat Women Say” and “Sh*t Expat Men Say”.

The reaction was mixed.  Some people thought it was some good, old fun that allowed us all to laugh at ourselves but there were others that felt slighted (you can check out comments to both videos at the links above).  The offense some people took made me think: where do we draw the line between taking other people’s opinion and humor as just that — humor — and taking it as something else — something that offends us?

How is that similar or different to managing our feelings towards something when we live in another culture?  How do we decide what offends us and what humors us?

Thoughts? Opinions? Shares?

Remember that the FREE Expat Support Day is on February 24th!  Get some inspiration and support through a free 15 minute laser coaching session — reserve your 15 minutes of clarity here.

 

Introducing Turkey

Turkey is one of the countries that’s profiled in the Global Coach Center Academy within the course “Living and Working in Turkey”.  In this post we interview one of the course’s co-trainers on some of the most interesting tidbits on Turkey.
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Lale Gerger in her own words: “My mother is American and my father is Turkish and I was truly brought up with both cultures.  I lived in Turkey during my elementary school years but then relocated back to Turkey in my 20s and stayed for another 11 years.  I was the first single person to ever adopt in Turkey and had to change legislation during the 5 year process.  Aside from living in both Turkey and the United States, I’ve also had the opportunity to live in Kuwait, England and Mexico.”
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Global Coach Center Blog (GCC Blog): What would be 1 to 3 tips you would give to someone who is moving to Turkey?
Lale:
1.  Turks are very friendly – take advantage of that and try to get to know the locals.
2.  Be patient; things can become bureaucratic in every day situations such as at a bank or even the post office!  Don’t forget that relationships are key in Turkey so try to befriend someone at places you visit often, it will make your life easier.
3. Be open and realistic; as with living in any country – there will be challenges and adjustments needed – as long as you can remain open to new experiences, you will have a wonderful time!
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GCC Blog: What was the funniest cultural misunderstanding you’ve experienced in Turkey?
Lale: I was fairly lucky in that since I’m half Turkish and I spoke Turkish when I relocated to Turkey in my 20s.  After graduating from UCLA’s Theatre department, I relocated to Turkey and was fortunate enough to land a faculty member position at Hacettepe University’s Theatre Dept.  One day, as I was trying to be friendly and making small talk with the head of the department, I asked, “So what have you done in the Theatre?”  In Turkish there is a formal and informal ways to say “you” – I, of course, mistakenly used the informal manner and to top it off, it turns out that he was not only the head of the theatre department but was one of the most famous actors in Turkey.  I, essentially, asked the Turkish Laurence Olivier what he did and in an informal manner at that!  Once I realized my mistake, I tried to apologize & use the more formal manner with him but he would not allow it; I think it was probably refreshing for him…
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GCC Blog: What’s the most popular proverb and why?
Lale: Proverbs are used consistently in every day life.  One of the more popular ones is: Bir kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı vardır.
Literal Translation: A cup of coffee commits to forty years of friendship.
Meaning:  Used to remind that friendships should not be taken lightly.  It also is quite telling of how the culture values relationships.
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GCC Blog: What do you love about that country?
Lale: Everything!
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GCC Blog: What do you dislike about that country?
Lale: Daily life is much more difficult – doing every day chores can become a real chore due to lack of well-developed systems. 
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The full course on “Living and Working in Turkey”, co-authored by Lale is available 24/7 at the online Expatriate and Cross-Cultural Academy for self- or assisted study.  Download it here.

Shit Expat Men Say

After doing the “Shit Expat Women Say” video, it’s only natural that we would want to follow it up with the “Shit Expat Men Say”.  The first one stirred a bit of a controversy among some, so I am very curious to see the reactions to this one.

Thoughts?  Comments? Things we missed?

To benefit from the collection of tools, ideas and exercises based on experiences of expats from around the world, get your FREE “A to Z of Successful Expatriation™” workbook by signing up for our Expat VIP list here.

And for those of you who work with expats, the next licensing/certification webinar for the Culture Mastery 4 C’s Process™ is coming up in March 2012.  Sign up now HERE and save — and get two languages at a price of one!