Category Archives: Retiring Abroad

Expatriate vs Immigrant – what’s the difference?

by Margarita

Recently an interesting discussion took place on the Expatriate and Cross-Cultural Success Facebook page – when do we consider ourselves expats and when are we immigrants?  So I’ve decided to try to explore it and I thought we’d start with a dictionary definition.  According to Miriam-Webster:

  • the word “Expatriate” is actually a verb or an adjective and means someone “living in a foreign land”.
  • the word “Immigrant” is a noun and means “a person who comes to a country to take permanent residence”.

If we go only by these definitions above, I see one major distinction that sets them apart.  Immigrants have an intention to stay – whereas for the expatriates this intention isn’t mentioned and isn’t clear.

Put another way, immigrants may have a larger emotional commitment to their new place of residence – and, thus, their approach to making it is different.  If expatriates know that they can always leave and they know it coming into the country already – how much effort will they try to put into… (a) finding ways to belong; (b) creating connections, (c) absorbing new ways of being, (d) making life-long friends, etc, etc, etc?

Everyone is different of course and I am not stating that temporary assignment expats don’t have the commitment to create the best life they can in their new country.  Yet, I think, the knowledge that they can always leave creates a degree of comfort that “if it doesn’t work, it’s okay because three years from now I am leaving anyway.”  Immigrants don’t have that luxury.

What do you think?

 

And in case you are interested, we just unveiled our #Re-Discovery #Re-Create #Re-Join Workbook and Guide based on a recent workshop that offered strategies and tools for women embarking on the re-discovery journey. First 30 people who download this guide will get a free one-0n-one coaching session! To find out more and to download, visit here.

 

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Introducing the USA

The US is one of the countries that’s profiled in the Global Coach Center Academy within the course “Living and Working in the USA” In this post we interview one of the course’s co-trainers on some of the most interesting tidbits on the US.

Jennifer Kumar, cross-cultural coach, is the co-creator of two cross-cultural training programs: “Chasing the American Dream: From Take Off to Landing” a comprehensive pre-departure preparatory course for students planning to study in US and “Living and Working in USA” – an online multi-media cross-cultural course for those planning to live, work and study in America.

Global Coach Center Blog (GCC Blog):  What would be 1 to 3 tips you’d give to someone who is moving to the US?

Jennifer For short or long stays in United States of America, there are a few etiquette rules that will be helpful for a wide variety of situations. These tips have been selected based on some of the cross-cultural misunderstandings I have coached foreigners adjusting to American culture in.

  • Tipping

There are many service professionals in USA who require to be tipped. Not leaving a tip will be offensive and is rarely if ever done even by Americans. A 15% tip is given to wait staff at restaurants that serve you at your table, restaurant home delivery drivers, hairdressers, barbers and taxi drivers. If the service was exemplary, leave 20%, if it could have been better leave 10% and if it was horrible leave two cents (two pennies). This communicates you have not forgot to tip, but that the service was pathetic. Tips are calculated based on the total of the bill before tax is added. Check your bill as some restaurants add in gratuity. In such cases, additional tips can be left if the service was exceptional. For other service professionals like bell hops, coat check attendants and valet parking attendants ask your trusted American friend as this can vary from place to place.

  • Greetings

Generally, when passing strangers on the street, someone will smile and ask “How are you?” Greetings may be more common in smaller towns than big cities. Americans do not expect long answers to this. An answer of “Fine, and you?” suffices. Don’t forget to smile. It will put Americans at ease. Some Americans feel uncomfortable if a greeting is without a smile and may ask, “Is everything alright?” If this happens, one can answer, trying to smile, “Yes, I am thinking about what I have to do today. I hope I can finish it all!” Attaching such an answer to work, Americans will understand the upset or stressed look on your face and generally will not ask more probing questions.

  • Eating Out

If your American friends or coworkers ask you to join them for lunch or dinner, assume you will pay your own bill. This is called ‘going Dutch,’ and is quite common. Unless the person inviting you insists on paying (even after you politely refuse and attempt to pay for yourself); you will pay for yourself and your own tips. Expecting your American colleague to pay for you may make them think you like them romantically; especially if you are the opposite sex; which must be avoided at all costs, especially if the person asking you to join is your coworker.

These three tips can be encountered any day whether an expat worker, international student or trailing spouse trying to fit in and socialize in American culture. If you’d like to learn more about American professional, on-the-job etiquette, social and cultural etiquette look into the course “Living and Working in USA”; a multimedia cross-cultural training with video, podcasts, worksheets and self-introspective activities. This course is designed to expose you to various elements of American culture and compare your cultural traits to those of Americans to understand how you will be able to fit in and make the best impression.

 

 

 

Change – what’s it good for?

As expatriates when we move from country to country we experience a lot of change.  At first it’s quite natural to reject most of it because homeostasis (the tendency to maintain the system the way it has been) is a very strong universal force, especially for humans.  Yet one of the gifts of that imposed change is that we can now give consideration to things that lay outside of everything we are used to – and try them on just the same way we’d try on a new piece of clothing we’d never thought we’d wear.

As with that new piece of clothing, sometimes there are surprises.  That thing we’ve never done in our lives may become our next favorite experience, business idea, hobby, habit, a memory to look back to, etc.  Imagine for a moment what you would have missed if you never moved.  What things would you have never seen and what things would you have never experienced?  And now imagine what you have seen and experienced as a result of every move.  How many more new things are out there for you?

Someone once said that “life is always offering us new beginnings, it’s up to us whether to take them or not.”  I don’t remember who said it, but it’s an empowering way to look at what’s available to us at every moment of every day.  And especially to those of us who get this incredible opportunity of imposed change.

So here is a short exercise that will help take advantage of change:

Step 1. List everything that’s new to you.  Take a few days to compile the list.  Note that you may be adding to that list as you go through the weeks and months of your expatriation.

Step 2.  From the above list, choose a few things you’d like to try.

Step 3.  List ways, in which the things from Step 2 can help you grow and evolve. 

How did it go?  What part of this experience can you share with others?

This process of taking advantage of change is an excerpt from the Global Coach Center Adjustment Guide E-course available at the Global Coach Center Academy.

To expat or not to expat: 3 tips that can help you decide

In today’s day and age expatriates are not only those sent abroad by their companies.  They are also people who decide to retire abroad; people who decide to move overseas on their own (although they might be called immigrants but more about that in another post); people who go to another country to study or volunteer; etc, etc, etc.  All of them have one thing in common: they somehow decided that living outside of their home country borders will be a good thing for them.  How does one decide that?  What can be helpful to consider before taking the plunge?

The tips I will list below may not fully apply to each category of expats but they will be helpful nevertheless.

Tip 1.  Consider the “why”. What is calling you to move abroad?  What’s driving your desire to relocate?  Is it the friends who keep telling you to do it and the grass just always seems greener on the other side?  Or is it the feeling of newness and adventure that’s calling you forth?  Are your reasons purely financial?

Discovering the motivation behind the thought of moving is your most important step to undertake before making any decision.  When you discover your motivating factors, you zero in on which of your personal values you’ll be honoring and which ones you may be neglecting. Making sure your values do not suffer in the process of your relocation is instrumental in making your move a happy one.

A simple process of making the decision based on values (as opposed to pros and cons process that most of us use) is the following:

  • First, identify your values.  What’s important to you in life?  Aside from food, water, and shelter what do you absolutely have to have in your life to make it worthwhile?  Make a list of those values (or if it’s difficult for you to give those values names, look at the list of common values at Global Coach Center site and pick the ones that ring true for you).
  • Second, chose the ten values that seem most important.  Imagine you are moving and you are only allowed to take 10, what would they be?
  • Third, draw the following table on a piece of paper and rate your chosen values on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best)
Value If I move, I’ll honor this value at the following level (from 1 to 10) If I stay, I’ll honor this value at the following level (from 1 to 10)
Example: 

Adventure

Family/Grandchildren

Learning/Growth

 

  • What are you discovering?  What are your values telling you?

Tip 2.  Investigate. Learn a few things about your own cultural blueprint and about prevalent cultural blueprint of the country you want to move to.  This learning goes beyond the traditional clichés and the do’s and don’ts – in fact, this learning will help you see how compatible (or not compatible) your cultural habits and values are with the cultural habits and values of the majority of people in your host country.  If your compatibility is close to zero, you may be looking at years of frustration – so why do it?  You might be better off selecting another country if you set your mind on moving.

Tip 3.  Conduct proper reconnaissance. You are about to make a very important decision of your life, so consider spending a few months simply living in that country as a try out.  Feel what it’d be like for you to become the resident of that country for good.  Connect with other expats – those who are there for a short and a long run.  What are you learning that can help you decide?

Tip 4.  Don’t make this decision alone. Friends, family and an army of well-wishers will have their opinions about your desire to move.  And although they’ll be dong the best they can to be impartial, their advice will still contain at least an iota of how-will-that-impact-me thoughts. Besides, other people’s advice rarely fit when we are about to make a really big decision in our lives.  So find someone who will help you tap into your own wisdom — find an expat coach.

How have you made your decision to move?  Please share.

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Expat coach — where art thou?

Third Culture Kids — what’s in the “programming”?

What do expats look for?

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