Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Why did you become an expat?

We’re currently analysing the results of our annual Expat Explorer survey (we’ll have the full results for you later this year!) and so far one thing really stands out: the wide variety of reasons why people choose to become expats. Whether it’s for work, to follow a partner, to find a new challenge or in pursuit of a better quality of life – the reason you’re moving will have a clear impact on your expat experience. Whatever took you there, here are a few of our top tips for getting the most from expat life while you are one!

If it’s for work…
Settling into a new country and a new routine is always a challenge – and the same goes for work culture. Your new office may look similar but and what worked at home may not be quite right for where you’re heading next. For instance: in a London office, the ability to make a good cup of tea is a big part of the culture – even more so, offering to make it for other people – regardless of how senior you might be. On a more practical level, knowing the dress code and etiquette will stand you in good stead. If you don’t know anyone in your new team, it’s a great reason to initiate contact before you head out there. Ask around your network or even tweet @expatexplorer to gather some helpful tips so that you can hit the ground running when you arrive.

If you’re following your partner or family…
Expect it to be difficult: everyone deals with change in their own way and it’s likely the move could add a little extra stress, however solid your relationship is. At its best, expat life is an adventure that you’re sharing together – and at its worst, you both have someone to reminisce with when you feel homesick and it’s important to remember you’re both in it together! One thing which shouldn’t be underestimated is the power of communication. Being able to voice concerns and talk over any problems that you’re having (either together or separately) might be difficult at the time, but being open with one another will pay off in the long term. The same goes for your family and helping children to adjust, particularly with older children: try and be balanced, take the rough with the smooth and encourage them to do the same. 

Image source: Creative Commons / Adrian Scottow

If it’s for the challenge...
You’re making exactly the right decision! Expat life is nothing if it’s not a challenge. But, as is usually the case, it’s the things which don’t come as easily that prove to be the most rewarding, exciting and exhilarating. Our advice: jump right in, say yes to as many things as you can and push yourself well and truly out of your comfort zone!

Why did you make the move abroad and what posed the biggest challenge when you got there? Let us know – tweet @expatexplorer!

1 comment:

  1. Good tips! I would like to add that I know many expats, including myself, who have moved following a partner/family, but the expat does not come from the same culture as his/her partner.
    Whether the expat is moving to the native country/region of the partner, or perhaps a third culture altogether, the challenges are similar (communication is still key!), but can take on different forms. Particularly when one half of the couple is experiencing culture shock and the other half sees nothing strange in their day-to-day life.
    I'd love to hear from others about their perspectives of these 'multicultural' partnerships!


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