Tag Archives: Writing

What can “sh*t people say” videos can teach us about being an expat?

by Margarita

Recently a wave of viral videos hit YouTube.  “Sh*t” people said — and by people I mean every possible group out there — was everywhere.  Some of them were better than others in terms of humor, production quality, acting, etc but what was interesting about them was that these videos took stereotypes and cliches and amplified them.

I thought — why not do a similar thing?  Why not take the expat women and expat men and create a couple of videos to amplify a few things that those two groups are known for saying?  Why not laugh at ourselves?

I don’t pretend to be a comedienne and I am certainly not a filmmaker. 🙂 But I penned a script of sayings that I either remember hearing or things I’ve said myself and hired some actors.  The result was “Sh*t Expat Women Say” and “Sh*t Expat Men Say”.

The reaction was mixed.  Some people thought it was some good, old fun that allowed us all to laugh at ourselves but there were others that felt slighted (you can check out comments to both videos at the links above).  The offense some people took made me think: where do we draw the line between taking other people’s opinion and humor as just that — humor — and taking it as something else — something that offends us?

How is that similar or different to managing our feelings towards something when we live in another culture?  How do we decide what offends us and what humors us?

Thoughts? Opinions? Shares?

Remember that the FREE Expat Support Day is on February 24th!  Get some inspiration and support through a free 15 minute laser coaching session — reserve your 15 minutes of clarity here.

 

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!

 

Waking up an artist in you — expat lifestyle opportunity… and a learning opportunity

One of the common advices an accompanying expat spouse receives in response to her/his concern about losing a career/job is this: “Enjoy your hobbies while you have this great chance.  Look at what you love to do and do it.”  It’s a great suggestion and many newly-unemployed expats have definitely found a peace of mind in taking up pottery, painting, writing, or stamp collection.  Finally all of those things they’ve been meaning to do their entire lives were at their fingertips and they had time and resources to do them!

Then a few months later a few of us “impact-oriented” people (me included!) started to wonder.  So here I am painting away (or writing or creating pottery or sewing) and isn’t this the time when I am supposed to be getting really good at this — my new craft, professionally-speaking?  I mean I’ve always been successful at my work, I’ve advanced and made more money in my career almost every year so isn’t this the time to start booking galleries or creating my fall fashion line?  And if not, then why am I doing this?  Why am I spending all this time and resources on doing something that’ll never create any impact in the outside world and will never make me money?

This is when the old familiar voice of doubt starts getting louder.  Maybe this new painting I am making is going to be really bad.  Should I change this color or should I add this color or should I… just quit the whole thing and do what I am good at — find work and immediately begin putting in 60-hrs weeks to catch up on what I’ve missed?  The hobby I’ve taken suddenly takes the form of some race I am supposed to win and every day I am more and more afraid to screw up the canvas.

Has anything like that happen to you?  It certainly has happened to me — and it continues to happen once in awhile.

What do I do?

I go back to a great metaphor my coach and I created.

I see myself as a child playing in a sandbox, building a castle.  The castle isn’t coming out the way I’ve wanted and so I level it to the ground.  “It’s just sand,” I hear my child say and begin to build the castle again. Playing is the main point here.

Allowing yourself to play is the biggest gift and the biggest learning — and that learning comes from our inner children that we’ve forgotten with all our career and impact aspirations.  So how about making play the central part of whatever we are doing and remembering that it’s just sand?

Your thoughts?

NEW at the Global Coach Center: an online course on Culture Mastery — offering how to be effective in any culture through the 4C’s ™ process of culture-emotion intelligence.

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)!

Of stories and cultures

In his book “Spontaneous Evolution” Dr Bruce Lipton suggests that, as meaning-making species, we — humans – live both by the stories we create and by the meaning we give to those stories.  Throughout history we have built lives on the foundation of our stories – and the more invested we become in our story, the more important it becomes for us to continue investing in that story… even if the story no longer works.

Some of our stories have been with us for hundreds of years, others have been around much less time.  Branches of different religions can be considered stories (think, for instance, of some religious zealots protecting the “purity” of their religion by rejecting gay rights in day and age when the humanity has embraced it as basic human right); on-going conflicts between nations can be considered stories (think of the conflict in the Middle East where animosity continues regardless of how useless it has become); and political regimes (think Egypt, Tunisia, the Soviet Union).  These collective stories often define and influence the way we live our lives – even if it no longer works for us.

Reading about this got me wondering about the connection between a story and a culture.  For instance, let’s take the collective story of the United States.  For many years the US has been known as “the land of opportunities and freedom where anyone can make something out of their life.”  Recently though it feels as if the story has been shifting towards something along these lines: “capitalism is great; socialism is awful; business interests first; money is the only thing that matters; guns need no control; social justice equals communism; corporations rule; survival of the fittest; it’s a dog-eat-dog world.”  Many people continue to invest in the story that capitalism the way they have been practicing it is the only way to go even though the system has marginalized a lot of people.  Many swear by their right to bear arms – when in today’s world of machine guns this is a much more dangerous preposition than when this amendment was created.  How do these stories contribute to the culture? And how does the culture contribute to – or maybe change – these stories?

What about the story of your country or the country you are living in?  What is it?

How has this story influenced the culture – and vice versa?

The wisest decision — #Reverb10

The process of looking at the past year and thinking of what the next will bring continues…  (courtesy of a very cool project — #Reverb10)

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

The last thing I made was a painting that I painted together with my daughter for my father’s birthday.  This was our first oil on canvas creation and it was fun to see it emerge.

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

The 2010 for me was the year of the online community.  This year I created the Facebook page for expatriates, I improved the LinkedIn Group “Ask a Cross-Cultural and Expatriate Coach”, I grew my blog subscription (also a bit of a group), and I joined pages and groups that were interesting.  In 2011 I’d love to connect closer with an artists’ community.

December 8 — Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

My magic is in the energy of Tinker bell.  The mischief coupled with kindness and ability to see the light of each person I come in contact with are what make me different.

December 10 – Wisdom.  What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

The wisest decision I made last year was to remember to treat myself to things I’ve always wanted to do and never allowed myself to – and along with that, to realize that I am so much more than what the outside world defines me to be.  So far treating myself resulted in signing up for a painting class, giving myself a break from work when my body and soul tell me to, and taking a few tennis lessons.

Taking this step of considering myself was so profound that I wanted to bring it to other people.  So I created an Expat Club: 10 Weeks of Wisdom Program that other expatriates can take and see what unravels for them.

December 13 – When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

My next step is in line with treating myself… this time to a no-work-and-no-computer-at-all week.  I need to recharge.

Remember we are still registering for 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. 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)!

 


First few days — #Reverb10

Although I am a little late in starting, this seems like a fascinating process to go through before the new year.  If it sounds interesting to you, join them at Reverb10.

Here are my answers to the first 5 prompts:

December 1:  Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

My 2010 word is running.  This entire year, it seems, has passed running from one thing to another, attempting to cramp too much into my days, and working to carry more than I can handle.  Sometimes in September I slowed down the running a bit and began to breathe a little deeper.  I’ve also added a few items on being-kind-to-myself-agenda amidst all the running.

My 2011 word is faith – believing that everything will turn out just the right way, the way it meant to be without the extensive running.  I’ve been practicing faith for awhile but in 2011 I want to fully embrace it and have faith that the universe has my back.

December 2: What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

E-mail and internet procrastination!  That has always been the two things I go to in order to avoid writing.   I cannot eliminate it for good but I can turn of the WiFi for two hours a day to just write.

December 3: December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).  

There was one moment when the time stopped and the only thing that existed were the things around me.  I don’t remember the details but I remember the feeling of gratitude of being alive and the feeling of being completely in the here and now.

December 4: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Through nature and really engaging with nature in simple ways.  For instance, when walking the dog, I’d very consciously NOT look at my smart phone and check messages but take in what surrounds me – the sound of the waves, the breeze, the trees.  Just being with nature for those short periods of time would fill me with wonder.

December 5: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I let go of my expectations towards one of the projects I was running and I let go of my ego’s expectations on this project.  I decided to remember that the universe will deliver me the result I want, but it may not be in the way I willed it – and I am willing to accept it now in any form it comes.

More to come…

Remember we are still registering for 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. 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™: 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)!

A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: H is for HUMOR

When I think of the importance of humor while an expat, one story always pops up in my memory.  When we were living in one country, we once went out to a restaurant with a group of friends.  There were about six of us and, when a waiter brought only one menu to the table, we politely inquired after a few more copies.  He looked at us as if we were crazy and said: “Why?  They are all the same.”

We still laugh today when we remember this story.   Since then there have been many more stories and times when looking at things through the lens of humor was essential to staying sane.  And that’s why I chose humor for an H in the A to Z of Successful Expatriation Series.

Humor makes frustrating and stressful situations a lot easier to handle.  It almost creates an instant vacuum effect where all your anger and stress get sucked out of you and replaced with a feeling of lightness and a belief that it’ll all work out somehow.  Since exasperating situations tend to happen a lot more often when we live in a foreign-to-us culture, humor can become a tool to use on a regular basis.

So next time you find yourself in a frustrating place, think of your favorite comedian/comedienne.   What would he/she laugh about here?

I conclude with another story told by a close friend – a story that still leaves tears in my eyes because I laugh so hard every time I hear it:

“I was living in another country and at one time desperately needed to buy a pair of sandals.  I spent days, if not weeks, looking around for a pair I would like and finally came across something that looked promising.  As customary, the store only had one sandal on display, the one for the left foot.  I tried it on, liked the way it looked on me, and asked the sales girl for the second one.

“We don’t have the second one.  We only have this one,” the sales girl said.

I just stared at her. “Come again?  You don’t have the one for the right foot?”

The sales girl shook her head.

Exhausted after several days of search and annoyed that this time it didn’t result in a purchase either, I said “Why would you display it if it’s not a pair?!”  I didn’t really expect an answer.

The sales girl stood there quietly for a moment and then said: “So, are you going to take it?”

What have been your stories when you were able to treat frustrating situations with humor?  Share them please!

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™: A is for ATTENTION

How many kisses make a greeting? Who gets to sit and who gets to stand in public transport? What is a proper way to thank someone?

Sure, you can find answers to these and other questions through reading about a country and taking a cross-cultural training.  But you can also find all this and more through simply paying ATTENTION to what’s happening around you.

We start our A to Z of Successful Expatriation™ with a basic tip that can be useful anywhere, anytime.   You don’t even have to be an expat to benefit from it.  Paying ATTENTION to what happens around you, observing it, and learning from it is an excellent way to get information about the culture you are living in.

What have you learned in the past by simply paying attention?

And what can you learn this week?

Any other “A’s” you can suggest?

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Cross-Cultural Misunderstandings… Got One?

Three Reasons to Become an Expatriate

Different Colors of Money

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center.

If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with an active link)!