Tag Archives: Memories

25 reasons for expats to be happy

  1. You are alive.
  2. You are healthy.
  3. You have people who love you (even if they are not near you at this moment).
  4. You are courageous (you moved away from home after all!)
  5. You get to see things others don’t.
  6. You get to experience new foods.
  7. You get to travel.
  8. You have friends around the world – and not just virtual ones!
  9. You have memories and stories that others would envy.
  10. Your kids are growing to be global citizens.
  11. You speak more than one language.
  12. You get to explore the world.
  13. You can help others less fortunate than you without having to travel far to do it.
  14. You can act as a cross-cultural ambassador for your country.
  15. You are creative (because your life now incorporates so many different ways of doing things).
  16. You are worldly.
  17. You have skills you could not have had if you stayed home all your life.
  18.  You know to count your blessings.
  19. You have patience (even if you think you don’t!)
  20. You have more opportunities than people back home.
  21. You can try different wines and different coffees.  And don’t forget the dessert!
  22.  You can study and learn something unusual.
  23. You almost certainly have a novel in you.
  24.  Your friends and family back home admire you.
  25.  You have a fun life.

Even if all of those don’t quite apply to you, there are still enough reasons here to keep in mind — especially when feeling sorry for yourself.  Pick the ones that especially speak to you and write them down where you can always see them.  And make sure to look at them when the bad mood strikes!

Remember that the FREE Expat Support Day is on January 20th!  Get some inspiration and support through a free 15 minute laser coaching session — reserve your 15 minutes of clarity here

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.

 

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Cultural Misunderstandings… can you relate?

Guest post by Stephen Milner

Some time ago I found myself working in Bucharest, Romania. It wasn’t that long after the overthrow of Nicolae Ceaușescu and the culture in which I found myself living was very alien to me. McDonalds had not even opened there yet. Thankfully I was working with quite a few British Ex. Pat. who could point me in the right direction in finding my way around.

After being there for a few weeks I’d got myself an apartment near the centre, it had good Metro and Tram links and wasn’t very far away from The Dubliner, The Irish pub in Bucharest. It dawned on me quite early on I needed to get some Laundry done, so I asked some of the Ex. Pat. community where to go. Easy, they said, about 300m past The Dubliner, on the same side of the road was an excellent laundrette.

That evening I set off with my bag of Laundry, and exactly where it had been described was a Laundrette. I went in, and though I didn’t speak Romanian, I had troubled myself to learn one or two words.

“Bună seara,” I announced as I walked in and smiled.

The woman behind the counter replied with a long string of Romainan that meant nothing to me. I smiled again, opened my bag and placed the laundry on the counter. The woman separated all the clothes into differing types, detailing each item in a notebook. When the itemisation was complete the woman began another long string of Romanian. It was clear she wanted something.

I got out my money, and asked her how much. She wagged her finger at me, she didn’t want paying. I explained that I didn’t understand, and more Romanian issued forth. She repeatedly tapped the the notebook, her finger on the price. She must want paying! I couldn’t see the amount written clearly so I took the notebook to turn it round to read it. The woman grabbed the notebook and a wrestling match began over the counter for possession of the notebook.

It was during this tug of war that several thought passed through my mind. The first thought was that most of my clothes were in this woman’s possession, the second thought was that I was in this situation way above my head and finally I vowed that the next time I was going to do something “new” in an unfamiliar culture I would make sure I discussed it with someone from that culture, rather than an Ex. Pat.

Finally I decided to give up. I let go of the book, apologised in my broken Romanian and decided that I would simply leave, and come back tomorrow with one of the Romanians I worked with to explain the situation, and find out what was wrong.

The apology worked a treat. The woman calmed down, and beckoned me back with her arm. She picked up a pen, and pretended to sign the book. And then it dawned on me. I had to sign. In fact, signing for just about everything, I very soon came to realise, is part of the culture in Romania. Thankfully a positive response to a polite apology is also part of the culture as well.

The next day, after everyone had had a good laugh at the situation, I made sure I learned enough about the language and the culture to be polite and respectful to others. Something I never regretted doing.

Stephen Milner is an experienced board director and inspirational leader with energy, enthusiasm and a passion for generating business growth in several functions including IT/IS, e-commerce, logistics, supply chain and retail.  You can reach Stephen through his LinkedIn profile here.

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.

Expat lifestyle or how to de-clutter in a most effective way

At a recent coaching summit one of the keynote speakers – Lynne Twist (whose book, The Soul of Money, I recommend highly) spoke about one of the most destructive and yet most spread myths of the modern world: more is better.  We are encouraged to consume more to “help” the economy, we are constantly sold things we don’t need through very clever advertising campaigns, and we are doped into believing that the more we have of anything the happier we will be.  Meanwhile, the constant race for more creates stress, frustration, and feelings of never being able to catch up – while depleting precious natural resources.

In the course of her talk, Lynne Twist mentioned that the storage industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States and the fact that we are building houses for our stuff makes absolutely no sense when there are so many homeless people.  This got me thinking that as expatriates, we are actually lucky because we get to go through our stuff every few years when we move and we get to de-clutter on a regular basis.

Of course one of the hardest things about organizing a move (apart from saying good-byes…) is deciding what to take and what to discard.  Those decisions not only take time, but also force us to say yes to some memories and no to others.

So how do you decide which memento of the past still deserves a place in your life and which doesn’t?  How do you decide which one of your possessions to donate?  And what is the ultimate test that helps you determine what will stay?

I have a system.  It may or may not work for you, but I found that it works wonders for me.  When I begin the moving process I ask myself the following questions about those things that I consider keeping:

•    What is the energy behind this thing?  What feeling do I get from it?
•    What does it represent to me now?
•    How important is it to me now?
•    How important is it to my future path?

Many objects that we hold on to may represent who we were long ago and not who we are now. Some may come from times that have been difficult and resonate with memories of sadness; others may have been symbolic to us in the past, but no longer carry the same meaning. Why hold on to them then? Why drain yourself and your house of energy with clutter that is not useful for who you are becoming?

When people, who have not experienced expatriate lifestyles, say to me how difficult it must be to move every few years, I usually respond that it’s a blessing and an opportunity.  It allows me to part with the old and invite the new into my life.  And I find that very inspirational.

The things that don’t make it on the moving list find their next owner in 99% of the cases.  Internet has allowed us to connect with people who may want and need the stuff you have – so before you add to the ever-growing trash pile out there, consider tapping into those resources!

Speaking of resources… Global Coach Center has recently started a resource of its own — an International Directory of Expat Coacheslisted by country. We started it because we get a lot of requests from people looking for a coach in a country where they are living.  So if you are in need of a coach, please visit it.  And if you are an expat coach, list yourself!

People who read this post also enjoyed:

How green is your move?

Expat Coach — where art thou?

Third Culture Kids — what’s in the programming?

Copyright © 2011 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™: V is for VISITORS

Most of us can agree that getting people to visit us is a great experience … in healthy doses of course.  Visitors give us an opportunity to share our lives with them (remember sharing is one of the 7 Habits of a Happy Expat).  Visitors give us a chance to take time out of our busy schedule and visit a landmark or two with them – the landmark we’ve been postponing to visit.  Visitors give us a new perspective on the country we are living in and open our eyes to things we may have not seen.  And, finally, having visitors means that someone actually cares about our experiences and wants to learn more about them!

So what are some strategies to have the best time with visitors in your home and your country?  I have a few of my own but since each country is different I’d love it if you add yours.

Here are mine:

(1) I make a list of all museums that are worth a visit and include the opening times, the days when the museums are closed, the entrance fee (if any) and the quick tips about each one if I have them.

(2) I look up schedules for performances for the time my visitors are going to be in town and send it to them ahead of time.  If they are interested, I offer my services of purchasing them tickets.

(3) I always keep a few spare maps of the city in the visitors’ room along with a map of public transport, if that exists.

(4) If I am in a country where renting a car is not ideal, I try to reserve at least one weekend to take our visitors to places that are not accessible by public transport.

(5) I try to show and recommend at least a couple of places off the beaten tourist track – and a few of very local restaurants.

What about you?  What are your strategies?

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

Remember to check out our Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom Program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, inspired Register for it here.

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™: T is for TRAVEL

One of the things I usually remember about our various posts is the travel in the region.  There was the time when we drove with several friends into a part of Russia where we only ate blini — Russian version of French crepes — for three straight days (vegetarian choices were limited off the beaten track).  There was the time when we took a smelly, overnight train to Bukhara and a scary plane ride to Khiva (in Uzbekistan).  There was the time when we had breakfast in France, lunch in Monaco and dinner in Italy.  And there was the time when we saw Iguazu falls from both the Brazilian and the Argentine side.

These experiences were all very different but there is one thing that unites them — the opportunity to see things we may have not been able to see had we not been posted in the region.  Every time we find ourselves expatriated to a country, we always look around.  What can we see in this country and in the countries that surround it?  What experiences are available to us?

To the dismay of our family and friends back home we almost never go home while living elsewhere.  Instead we prefer to explore our surroundings.  When, if not then, will we have this opportunity?  And that’s why taking this chance to explore and Travel within the region of your post is the T for the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™.

Where have you traveled lately?

Any other T’s out there?

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

Check out our Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom Program. It has been specifically designed around expatriate issues and concerns and it’ll help you feel supported, encouraged, and inspired. If you ever thought of getting an expat coach and didn’t get the chance/finances/courage to do it, this Club is your opportunity to try a virtual coaching environment.  Register for it here.

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™: 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)!