Tag Archives: overseas

Expatriates – surviving or thriving? Depends on how you look at it…

Recently a few articles and books caught my eye.  All of them were targeted at expats and all of them used the word survive in some fashion.  There was either a title “How to survive as an expat” (Disclaimer: not the exact words); or an e-book on “5 Ways to Survive your move abroad (again, not exact words); or an article on “Survival tips on…”, etc, etc, etc.  All this written material  was intended to help expatriates and was offering help from the perspective of survival and having to survive.

Why do I bring this up?  If we look at the definition of the word survive, this is what we get:

  • To remain alive or in existence.
  • To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere.
  • To remain functional or usable.

How is that for a perspective?  How inspiring does it sound to you if you are an expatriate (or preparing to become one)?

My point here is that perspectives from which we approach our lives matter a great deal.  Perspectives can be empowering and inspirational – the ones that make us look at the world thought the glasses of possibility.  Perspectives can also be cautious and fearful — the kind that force us to look at the world through the glasses of prevention.

Looking at our expat experience from the point of view of having to survive is nowhere as fun and calling as looking at it from the point of view of thriving.  What do you think?

And how do you look at your expatriate journey?

People who enjoyed this also read:

A different take on expatriate motivation

7 Habits of a Happy Expat

Culture Shock revisited or is it all about going through the stages?

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™: W is for WILLINGNESS and WISDOM

If I were to come up with a cooking metaphor for an expat life, then I’d say that willingness qualifies as one of the major ingredients – a base ingredient, in fact.  Just like you cannot make a great cake without eggs (or butter or whatever you must have in your cakes), you cannot make a great expatriate life without being willing to do so.  Willingness is where it all starts – we must be willing to experience change, we must be willing to be open minded, we must be willing to learn, we must be willing to let go of assumptions and judgments, we must be willing to consider other truths and opinions, etc, etc, etc.

One of my favorite questions when I coach a client and when we are talking about a major step in their lives is: “On a scale of 1 to 10, how willing are you to undertake that?” And the next question is “How committed are you to this course of action?” Willingness paves a way for commitment; commitment paves a road for intention; and intention helps us co-create our lives.

Wisdom is another one of those ingredients that’s a must in life – and if we were to go with a cooking metaphor, then wisdom is your recipe.  Unless you tap into your inner wise self, whatever you cook out of life isn’t going to turn out the way you dreamed.  Our inner wisdom is our resource to tap into when we have questions about the direction of our lives, when we need to make decisions about our life journeys, and when we need to find the road towards fulfillment of our dreams.

How do we tap into that wisdom?  With so much pressure from the outside, how do we make sure the world doesn’t drown out the voice of wisdom?  There are several tools you can use to find that voice of wisdom, but the important thing to know is that it’s not only about finding it, but it’s also about remembering to listen to it. Making a habit of consulting it on a daily basis and growing your connection with it is sometimes more difficult that finding it in the first place.

How do you find the voice of your inner wisdom?  And how do you make sure you tune into it on a regular basis?

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

Always being in-the-know of our inner wisdom is going to be one of many important lessons we will discuss and learn during the 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.  Remember that if you sign up before November 15, 2010, you get a FREE coaching session.  Sign up 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™: 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™: R is for RELATIONSHIPS

When you move from place to place as an expat, everything is different.  Your work is different, your relationship with your colleagues is different, your colleagues are different, the way of life is different, the culture is different, etc, etc, etc.  The only thing that stays pretty much the same is your family that comes with you.

The differences and changes we go through as we move often produce a lot of stress for both you and your family.  And since our outlets for stress are frequently those closest to us, many times we take our frustrations out at our spouses and our children.  And they, in turn, take their frustrations out at us.

These frustrations and the fights/misunderstandings/pain they cause act as underground water currents that slowly destroy the foundation of your home.  How can you stop these currents from damaging your relationships?

One way to do it would be to find another outlet for your stress.  Hire a coach and you’ll realize that the coaching fee you’ll spend will be an investment that will keep paying by making your family stronger.

Another way to do it is to go back to the basics.  Make a point of returning to those moments that initially brought you together (if this is your spouse) or those moments that you look back at with happiness (if it’s your kids and your spouse).  Re-visit those moments together — find that magic again.  Remember those meaningful connections.  And then decide together – what do you want your next chapter to be?  And how do you want it to be?

For more on relationships while an expat, you can read this post:

Trailing and not failing: how our relationships can sustain us in expatriation?

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, 7 Habits of a Happy Expat 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™: N is for NEGOTIATION

When I say negotiation I don’t mean the one that has to do with business deals or peace accords.  Neither am I using the word to indicate anything that has to do with dispute resolution.  Instead, I am using the word to explain the delicate process of negotiating the change – and a journey of making lots of very new and, sometimes, difficult choices.

When you arrive to another country and emerge yourself into another culture, you begin to notice that certain things are done differently.  People might be routinely late to appointments whereas you are used to always being on time.  People may drop by your office unexpectedly whereas you are used to scheduling these impromptu meetings.  People may expect you to spell their responsibilities out for them – when you are expecting a healthy dose of initiative.

All these changes may throw you for a loop – and worse, they may really wreck havoc in how you perceive yourself and your ability to succeed in the new environment.  After all, if you are constantly frustrated and if you are struggling to understand why things are not working the way they should, you’ll find yourself arguing with your saboteur a lot longer than you ever want to.

And that’s where negotiating across cultures comes in.  This negotiation process is actually very simple and consists of 5 steps:

(1) Determine which cultural variable is responsible for the behavior that drives you crazy

(2) Identify where you are for this cultural variable on a cultural continuum

(3) Identify where most of your host country nationals are

(4) Determine if you have a large gap – and, if you do, (a) are you willing to change your behavior or (b) will you prefer for people around you to adjust to your habits (this depends on the value structure and if the variable in question is the reflection of your values/identity or habits/behaviors)

(5) Create an action plan.

This 5-step process comes from a module we developed for cross-cultural training with a coach-approach for our on-line cross-cultural courses.

What do you think?

And what other N’s are 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™: L is for LISTENING and LANGUAGE

Ernest Hemingway once said: “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”  And unfortunately he was (and he is still) right – most people don’t listen.  They hear but they don’t really listen.  Usually this is what happens when someone is telling us a story: we engage in our own internal listening.  We either remember that something similar has happened to us and we begin constructing an answer in our heads about our own story; or we find ourselves bored and thinking of something else; or we remember about something we need to do and begin to worry about it; or… etc etc etc.  We are never really 100% there – focused on the words and the energy of what’s being spoken.

Listening fully is essential to understanding and establishing connections with people.  And understanding and establishing connections with people are essential to creating a successful and fun experience as an expatriate.  Next time you are engaged in a conversation, try this exercise: put your entire attention at another person and every time you notice your thoughts going elsewhere, bring them back.  What do you hear?  What do you observe?  And what do you hear between the lines?

Listening fully also means listening to what’s not being said in words.  It’s listening to what’s important to that person, to what makes them tick, to what upsets them.  If you make an effort and really listen to someone next time, you’ll be surprised to find out how much you can actually learn about that person.

Knowing the language goes hand in hand with knowing how to listen. Each language brings with it a certain way of interacting – and, again, as you listen, you’ll be learning these ways and, in addition to connecting with a person, you’ll also be connecting with their language.

What are your thoughts on this?

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™: I is for IDENTITY

To quote the movie Fight Club (1999): “You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. …” Who are you then?

Losing one’s identity is one of the premier worries expats have when they face a decision of moving abroad:

  • Who am I going to be there?
  • What am I going to do with my time (for those who accompany their working spouses)?
  • What will I relate to… if anything?
  • What relationships will I form with people?
  • And what about financial independence?

This list of concerns can go on and on and, if you look closely, you’ll see that a lot of these questions relate to who we see ourselves as – and to how we preserve that in unfamiliar environments.

So how do we keep our identity and how do we feel good about ourselves wherever we may end up?  I believe the key here is our relationship with ourselves.  All too often moves and transitions produce feelings of doubt in our own abilities; feelings of guilt, feelings of low self-esteem; and feelings of “not being good enough, smart enough, etc.”  No matter what we call these feelings, they are all about the same thing — we stop liking and set out to criticize ourselves.  What kind of relationship is that?  How much do we damage this most important relationship in our lives — the relationship of us with us?

The regular criticisms and nagging also create the recurrent feelings of “I am losing myself”, “I am no longer who I was before”, “my identity is slipping away” and so on and so forth.  The self-critical mode takes over and it’s no wonder that we feel that our identity is no more.

Your thoughts?

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

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™: D is for DISCOVERY

Traveling always brings about discovery and for many of us one of the reasons we become expats is to discover something new.  We discover new cultures; new foods; new ways of dressing; new friendships; and new fun things to do.  The whole expatriate experience is about discovering – and while there are tons of things to discover around us, I want to focus on discoveries that we make within us.

Moving to another place creates change in our lives and, as that change challenges us, we get to discover how we are around that change.  We get to discover and learn things about ourselves we may have never known.  And with it we may even discover new callings in life – a new career, a new line of education, a new business opportunity.

So the D in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ isn’t only about discovering the world outside of ourselves – but it’s also about discovering and exploring our internal world.  Seeing for the first time qualities we’ve had all along, but never paid attention to is also a discovery.  Kind of like the discovery of things you’ve forgotten you had… those of you, who move frequently and take most of your household with you, will relate as you remember the giddy feeling of unpacking and seeing things you’ve forgotten about because they spent a few months in transit.

What have been your discoveries – external and internal?  And what other D’s are out there?

For all the letters in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ click 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™: B is for BEGINNING

Someone once said that “life is always offering us new beginnings, it’s up to us whether to take them or not.”  And while for many people their new beginnings may not be apparent at first sight, for expatriates every move is a new beginning.

Every time we move, we find ourselves thrust into a different life – a life that offers discoveries, adventures, and learning.  And even though sometimes it’s scary and uncomfortable, it’s still a gift.  Like a toddler who looks at every new activity and every new toy as an exciting chance to explore, an expat can look at every move as a new beginning and a chance for something amazing.

What about you?  What beginnings do you remember and how do you take advantage of the ones offered to you?

Any other “B’s” out there?

Read about the “A” here.

People who read this post also enjoyed:

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

3 Reasons to Become an Expatriate

7 Habits of a Happy Expat

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)!

3 awesome things in your expatriate experience

The other day I was listening to my local NPR station and heard an interview with an author of

“The Book of Awesome”, Neil Pasricha.  And while I am not a big fan of the word awesome I thought Neil’s idea of “awesome things” is a powerful insight into a human experience and a great resource for gratitude.

For those of you who have not heard of the book or the idea, it all started with Neil’s blog where he set out to list 1000 awesome things that happen to all of us.  An awesome thing can be defined as something that, albeit for a moment, makes us happy, giddy, excited, relieved, etc, etc, etc.  Awesome things are different for all of us and those that might be awesome for me may not be awesome for you.

And so I thought that those of us who have lived abroad and been expatriates probably have our own collection of awesome in our lives.  What are they for you?  What have been the awesome experiences and things for you in your journey of expatriation?

I want to invite you to play a game with me.  Name 3 of your awesome things in comments.  I’ll start:

  • sharing my experiences with my visitors
  • the first moment of landing in a new country
  • finding a grocery item I want when supplies have been erratic

What are yours?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

I live here? I live here. I live here!

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

7 Habits of a Happy Expat

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