Tag Archives: overseas

What do expats need to stay?

According to statistics, the vast majority of expatriates who leave their postings early cite “family adjustment” as the main reason for their return.  And while the definition of “family adjustment” is very broad and can contain a lot of different issues, for the purpose of this blog post I’d like to focus on just one.

The spouse/partner career issues come up both in statistics and in my own practice of coaching expatriate spouses.  Almost 80% of the spouses I coach come to me citing either their difficulty in adjusting to life without a career or in justifying taking a few years off or in feeling confident enough to look for and find a job in their new country of residence.  These struggles put a lot of strain on their well being, their families’ well-being, and, by extension, the success of the expatriate assignment — which, in turn, greatly affects the company’s ability to retain talent and the company’s bottom line.

So what can companies do to help their expatriate families in terms of this issue?  Short of finding a great job for the spouse, what tools and resources can companies provide?  My suggestion would be to start with these three and add more if necessary:

1.  When preparing an employee for expatriation, inquire if the spouse/partner is interested in continuing her/his career while abroad. If that’s the case, make sure you offer that spouse/partner the kind of cross-cultural training that’s focused on job and corporate culture.  The list of traditional do’s and don’ts is nice but it doesn’t help when someone wants to find work.

2.  There are web sites out there that offer job searches specifically for expat partners. Some require subscription but the amount of money you’d spend on subscribing to them will definitely pay off as you won’t lose the money you spent on expatriating someone who wants to come home 2 months later.

3.  Pay for the first three to four coaching sessions with a certified expatriate/cross-cultural coach for the spouse/partner. Coaching is a great tool of empowerment that helps people adjust faster and better.  You don’t have to commit to cover coaching costs for the entire time of your employee’s expatriation — but if you cover the first few sessions, they will continue on their own.  The support and the skills that coaching offers will contribute to your efforts in creating the best expatriate assignees out there.  We work with HR departments and specialists to offer this kind of initial session service — please contact us here for more information.

There are many more things that companies can offer and I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions in the commentaries!

People who read this post also enjoyed:

What do expats look for?

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

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

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

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

Those of you who follow my blog know that a few months back my family and I left Russia (St Petersburg) after spending four years there.  We had a wonderful time, enjoyed (almost) every moment of it, learned quite a bit, and saw many interesting things.  Leaving was tough — as it is each time when our post comes to an end and we have to relocate.

This time we moved to South Florida — Miami to be exact.  And to this day — it’s been over six months now — I walk around my neighborhood still asking myself: I live here? And then saying: Yes, I do. And then almost screaming: I live here!!!

Why you’d wonder?  Was Russia that bad?  Or is Florida that wonderful?

None of the above, really.  But when I go outside and when I realize that this year my winter consists of sunny skies, temperatures in the 20 C (70 F), slight breeze, palm trees and never having the feeling of being frozen to the seat of your car — I just rejoice.  I feel extremely grateful to be able to live in this climate, to be able to drink coffee and eat dinner outside every day, to know that I’ll wake up to sunshine almost every day, and to enjoy walking the dog.

It’s true that Miami doesn’t have a lot of things that Russia has and I miss those things every day.  But instead of concentrating on what’s lacking — I choose to focus my attention on what I have and feel gratitude for it every single day.

So what about you?  What are you grateful to have and experience in the place you are living in now?  What makes you want to say: “I live here? I live here. I live here!!!”?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

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

Flight $500, Hotel $150, Expatriate Reunions… Priceless

What makes repatriation difficult?

For those who are interested to learn more about Russia and how you can make your time there successful and fun, I am offering a FREE TELECLASS: Your Experience in Russia — Success Tips.  For more information please click here.

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

Your identity in expatriation: will it stay or will it go?

Some of you may remember this quote from 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. … “  The question then becomes: who are you?

Identity and its possible loss during expatriation is one of the most recurring issues expatriates bring up in coaching sessions.  And for everyone identity signifies something different: for some it’s the loss of a career they’ve experienced by moving with their spouse half way around the world; for others it’s the loss of financial independence due to a move; for yet others it’s the loss of belonging to a group of people they feel something in common with; and for others it’s the loss of their purpose/place/way/security… the list can go on and on.  So, what makes us who we are and how can we preserve that when in transition and surrounded by an environment that’s seemingly taking away our identity?

Answering the question of who we are will take a lot more than just one blog and so I am going to concentrate on the second part of the question above — how do we keep our identity and how do we feel good about ourselves wherever we may end up?  I think 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?

And what good comes of it?

Certainly not much.  Instead, these regular criticisms and nagging 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.

Ever felt that way?  What do you think?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

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

Trailing and not Failing: How our Relationships can sustain us in Expatriation?

To tip or not to tip…is that a Cultural Question?

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

New Year’s Resolutions? Wishes? What is it where you are?

On my other website — a Russian-language site that’s dedicated to healthy and sustainable lifestyles — we have a poll.  The question we ask is “What’s most important to you in the New Year holiday?”  And we have five multiple choice answers, one of which is “Expectation of something new and better in the New Year”.  Not surprisingly the majority of people mark that as their answer.

Indeed for many of us the New Year signifies new beginnings, new chances, new hopes that whatever we dream about will come true.  And we go about “requesting” these new things in different ways.  Some of us think of what our wishes are for the New Year, others create resolution lists, and yet others don’t do anything but have hope.

My childhood was spent thinking of wishes because I grew up in a country where that was the tradition.  To this day I continue to “wish” although I now live in a country where creating New Year’s resolutions is the traditional thing to do.  What about you?  What’s important for you in the arrival of the New Year and how do you “request” it?

And if you live abroad, what New Year traditions have you observed there and how does it affect your own way of thinking about the New Years?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Different Colors of Money

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

Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101: Tip 2 — Pay Attention

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

Trailing and not Failing: How our relationships can sustain us in expatriation?

As many expatriate spouses do, I gave up my job when we decided to start traveling the world with Foreign Service.   I had a great job — the one that paid well and the one that was interesting — but then my husband got an opportunity that was too good  to pass on.  And so we decided that I can perhaps find something as we move from place to place.

The first country we went to ended up going through the recession less than a year after we got there, so getting a job in my profession in the local economy was not an option.  And that’s when I decided that I needed to re-invent myself.  Instead of looking for professional opportunities every place I landed, I decided to carry a professional “opportunity” with me.  That’s how I came across what I do now and I became an expatriate entrepreneur.

As it is with every type of entrepreneurship, succeeding financially takes a lot of time and a lot of effort.  It also takes working on the computer at night, having odd tasks at odd hours — especially if your clients live in different time zones — and taking some time from the family.  It is not a “9-to-5” kind if job and that’s where spouses and their attitudes come in.

How so?

In various ways.  But here I am going to focus on two: understanding and encouragement.

(1) Understanding. When you forgo a full-time job and choose working out of your home, you pretty much stay at home.  And, for some people, staying at home means that you are responsible for all the home tasks out there — cleaning, cooking, ironing, etc.  If you are working on a business, you probably have just as little (if not less!) time for all the home tasks than you fully-employed spouse does.  Yet you are expected to do them.   This expectation may create guilt on your part and criticism on your spouse’s part.  The same feelings surface when you work at night.  In the end neither your business nor your relationship benefit from them.

(2) Encouragement. We all know making money on an idea takes time.  Time and a lot of work.  So when you spend your mornings and your afternoons and your evenings growing your business, the last thing you want to hear from your spouse is the reference to how your business isn’t really a business but rather a hobby since you have not really made a dime.  Doesn’t do a lot in terms of encouragement, does it?  In fact, those comments often shut you down, even if they are meant as a joke.

What are your thoughts on this?

People who read this post, also read:

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

How to Leave without Regrets

7 Behavior Choices of a Happy Expat

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.

If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us!

Legally Abroad or Experiencing Law Enforcement When Overseas

I got my very first traffic violation ticket yesterday.  Maybe I’ve been lucky or maybe I am a law-abiding driver (well…most of the time anyway), but the irony of the fact that my first citation happened in my own country didn’t escape me.  How did I manage to get in trouble in a country where I know the rules while I never did in other countries where I was not so sure of the rules?

It’s a good question and maybe the answer to it lies in “paying close attention” even in places we think we know.  But that’s not the point of this post.  My interaction with the police officer and my ticket experience got me thinking about our worldwide experience with police.  Having lived in many countries I’ve had my share of interactions with law enforcement (although not always about traffic violations).  What is the difference between these kinds of interactions at home and abroad?

Maya Angelou once said that “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  And I find that this is especially true for me when I deal with the law enforcement.  I understand that it’s not their job to make you feel good, but can they at least not make you feel awful?

I cannot claim to have experienced dealing with the police in every country of the world and I am sure there are plenty of downright horrible experiences out there.  And there are also good experiences — I’ve had a few myself.  So what has been your experience where you are living now?  And how does it compare to your home country?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

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

Cross-Cultural Intelligence 101: Tip 3 — Leave your assumptions at home

Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings: Got one?

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