Friday, 11 September 2015

Expat problems and silver linings: overcoming challenges during a move abroad


Expats who have gone abroad in search of a new challenge can find they’ve got more than they bargained for. Whether it’s more commonplace challenges like tracking down films recorded in your native language, or the emotional impact when realise you’ve lost your accent, living abroad makes for a more resilient and resourceful person. This post highlights some of the shared problems that expats face, and gives some tips to help rise to the occasion.

Keeping up with your home country’s pop culture

First time expats can prioritise activities like socialising and adjusting to their new surroundings. But in the rush to blend in and start a new life it’s easy to forget how much co-ordination is necessary to maintain ties with home. An easily overlooked link is pop culture. Ordinarily after a long day at work you’re able catch up with your favourite drama series from the same exact spot you left off and discuss the show’s revelations with your friends shortly after. But this isn’t always the case for expats who struggle to even access their favourite shows. Some expats have the added task of trying to find anything recorded in their native tongue and after long and strenuous searches are only able to find badly dubbed films they’re vaguely familiar with. 

One imaginative way to bypass this obstacle is to start writing up your own fan fiction. This way you’re able to finish the season on your own terms, and bring to life the ending you want for the story’s protagonist.

Expat arithmetic
Nothing strengthens your mental arithmetic like the switch to expat life. Expats need to quickly and accurately convert many things. Whether it’s calculating how far you need to run to prepare for your 10K training, piecing together whether that bargain is as big as you’re being told or figuring out an appropriate time to phone your parents with an update, counting becomes a big part of your day.

For those that are not mathematically minded, calculation is one of those skills that just gets better with practice. Instead of dreading converting the metric system to imperial, seize the opportunity to exercise those numeracy skills.  
 Creative Commons – Anssl Koskien

Where did my accent go?
It can be a comforting and familiar feeling when you encounter someone from your hometown on your expat journey. Although you may have only just met this person conversation often flows when you discuss town customs, celebrations and oddities. But as the conversation progresses you discover that they’re talking to you like you were merely a visitor passing through, instead of a born and raised local. Then as you hear your accent next to theirs you realise that it’s become diluted and you’ve lost your twang.

Although this can feel like you’ve lost your grasp on the home you’ve left, think instead of how far you’ve come. A noticeable contrast to a time when you could barely understand the local dialect, you’re now
fully embedded into it.

Working out vacation times for the expat kiddies
The final issue is a reality for many expat parents. Families living abroad may plan their annual holidays to ensure that their mini expats are able to spend quality time catching up with their family and friends from home but these attempts can sometimes be thwarted by school schedules that no longer match. Little travellers who are excited about being reunited with their loved ones may soon find that they need to patiently wait for their friends to finish the school year. So even though the distance has been removed another obstacle to their reunion has taken its place.
 


Seize this opportunity to have quality family time with your loved ones in the place that you call home. By giving your mini-expats a tour of your old haunts, you’ll be making the most of this precious uninterrupted time, whilst helping them to foster a sense of belonging …before they are too busy with their friends.

Let us know which expat problems you’ve encountered on your travels and the solutions that you’ve devised to conquer them using our
Hints and Tips tool


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