Category Archives: Writing

Turning points

Guest post by Louise Wiles

What have been the main Turning Points in your life?

If you, like me have relocated abroad a number of times then you will without a doubt have faced a number of Turning Points.

When Kate Cobb the editor and creator of Turning Points challenged me to write about mine I was intrigued by the idea. She asked me to think about one time where I had used a Turning Point as a springboard to creating something new in my life.

A Turning Point is a “point in life when things go wrong or life takes an unexpected or challenging turn”. At these points we can embrace the change, learn from it and move forward OR fight against it, struggling to maintain our fragile status quo, attempting to live as if the turning point hadn’t occurred.

My Turning Point originated from a number of factors all coming together at the same time. The specific details I will save for you to read about in the book! I’ll just say for now that a relocation abroad and the challenge of creating a new life in that new location formed a big part of my Turning Point.

Mobile expatriate living is all about recreation. It provides the opportunity to experience new and different ways of living within different cultures. It’s often viewed as a great opportunity and embraced as that by many who relocate frequently. However this positive side is often accompanied by challenges:

  • Living in a culture different from our own will perhaps cause us to question our personal beliefs and values. We may find that some of our personal beliefs and values are in conflict with those of the host culture and this can be a source of stress and discomfort.
  • However much we are excited by the opportunity to move abroad, there is always an element of sadness as we leave loved ones behind. At these times the emotional impact of our ‘goodbyes’ can be tough to handle.
  • We may find that our personal identity is challenged. Moving away from social networks and roles in our old lives that helped to define us can leave us feeling becalmed, uncertain of which direction we should now take.

These and other challenges are all derived from the Turning Point and it is down to us to determine which direction we now take. I know I drifted for a number of years in previous relocations. My Turning Point inspired me to start taking active decisions about how I could move my career forward abroad.

And as I have done so I have learned so much.

This quote by Aldous Huxley sums this up very well:

“Experience is not what happens to man, it is what a man does with what happens to him”

You can read about my turning point in the Turning Points book which launches on November 1st. You can also read about twenty four other women’s amazing, and at times shocking but always inspiring stories.  But the book is not simply about their stories. The book is also about the learning that they gained from their experiences and how they now use that knowledge to guide, support and help others. It is full of advice and tips for turning lives around.

Go and visit my Turning Points page here.

You can buy the book and then claim three wonderful gifts with my compliments.

Also you can visit The Turning Points Launch page here.

GCC blog: In addition to contributing to what looks like a fascinating book, Louise is also our co-creator of the “Living and Working in the UK” online course.  Thanks again, Louise, for offering your support and offering to share your experiences with other expats!

 

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: M is for MEMORIES

Expatriates can consider themselves among the luckiest people on Earth because they get to generate the most exciting memories during their international assignments.  Memories of new places, new people, stimulating challenges, exploration of the unknown, etc, etc, etc.  And, if we are like the majority humans, for the most part we will remember the good parts and forget the not-so-good-ones.

Memories are important not only because they remind us of the fun we had, but also because they help us remember the journey we undertook to learn about the new place — and in the process, we remember what we learned about ourselves.  The journey is just as important as the destination (if not more sometimes), and so by collecting and preserving the memories of places and people, we also collect and preserve the memories of our learning and discoveries about ourselves.

So here is short exercise.  Answer these two questions (and, please, share your answers in the commentaries!):

(1) What do I most remember about my past assignments?

(2) What did I learn about those places and about myself in the process?

How did you do?  What was it like to look at your experience through the lens of your own journey?

Any other M’s out there?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: J is for JOURNAL

Ever since my daughter learned to write coherent sentences, I’ve always encouraged her to record the various trips we were taking.  We’d sit down at the end of every day – usually during a dinner in a restaurant – and while the food was being prepared, she’d record things that were especially interesting for her.  And even though it’s now becoming more and more difficult to get her to write her “travel journal” (age, I suppose), she loves going back and reading what she’s written years ago.

Journaling about your expat experiences – whether in electronic form or in an old-fashioned way with a pen and a notebook – gives us an opportunity to record the things we see and experience shortly after we’ve seen and experienced them.  Nothing gets lost in our memory, nothing gets forgotten and in the end we have a great collection of stories that can provide hours of memories years later.  Some of these stories may even end up becoming a book some of us have always dreamed of writing in retirement.

Keeping a journal in electronic form – a blog as we call them now – also allows us to share with family and friends at home.  Add a few photographs and you’ve just provided an evening of entertainment for your loved ones.

Journals help us remember and they help us share.  Do you keep a journal?  How?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click here.

And remember to check out our on-line courses on Culture Shock, Expat Know-How and on Cross-Cultural Training at the Global Coach Center Academy!

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.
If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

Should expatriates be writing?

Before I became an expat I never thought of writing as something I can do on a regular basis and as something I can enjoy. In  fact, writing was never my strong point… well, according to my 6th grade Soviet teacher anyway.

But then I moved to my first overseas posting. And even though English was officially my second language and I had to get comfortable writing in it, I started to experiment with the written word. First I wrote extensive letters about what I was experiencing; then I started writing short stories — my first one (the one about buying a car in Uzbekistan) actually made it onto the NPR’s Car Talk website; and later I began to base my fiction on what I saw around me. My writing really took off and I haven’t stopped since.

Recently I read in one of the LinkedIn group discussions that, according to a recent study, expatriation does wonders to one’s creativity. When you move overseas you become more creative — and that increased creativity may express itself in off-the-wall business ideas and/or in nurturing your inner artist either through writing, painting, or any other art form. In my journey both things happened: I took up writing and I created a business.

Reality is stranger than fiction. And who better know it than us — the expatriates — people who on a daily basis experience something new, something we can tell the world about?

What about you? Do you have some short stories in you? Have you been writing about what you see and about what you experience? Someone out there would love to read it, I bet!

People who read this post also read:

Cross-Cultural Intelligence: Tip 6

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

How to leave without regrets

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