Source: Creative Commons/ Fukecha Nabil
HSBC Expat is supporting the new FT View from series on the Financial Times website, which looks at expat experiences in some of the most pulsating cities around the globe. In this week’s issue, the FT explores Hong Kong, the vibrant gateway to the East.
In one of the articles, “A life less ordinary: Is emigration alluring or alienating? - columnist, Edwin Heathcote helps to dispel some of the myths of expat life, saying:
“The expat experience combines a cocktail of the thrill of the new and the ennui of global alienation, of displacement and dislocation. At its best, though, it can open up not only new places and peoples but also new ways of seeing.”
One of the key issues that come up time and again when discussing life abroad is the balance between integrating into the local community and creating a network of expat friends. The article highlights the difference between living in a city with a large expat population, such as Doha, and living somewhere that is much less tried and tested by expats.
Many people expect expats to live, work and socialise in close-knit, expat-only groups. Of course, being friends with other expats is a great way to feel supported and know that other people are in the same boat as you, however, expats who break away from the expat bubble benefit from being able to fully experience and immerse themselves within the local culture and surroundings.
To truly immerse yourself into a new culture for all its differences and interesting quirks and qualities, the locals hold the key, having lived and breathed the country all their lives. Being part of the culture means living life as part of the community, rather than seeing yourself (or anyone else) as different, which can fuel feelings of isolation.
1. Learn the language
2. Get comfortable with being awkward
3. Accept your limitations
4. Join in with the expat community, but don´t hide there
5. If you are here surrounded by your spouse’s family you are lucky to have that connection
Do you have any pointers on avoiding expat isolation that you would like to share with the community?
Is your support network mostly expat, local, or a mixture?
Leave a comment in the box below, or tweet us @ExpatExplorer.