Coping as an expat in a strange country is sometimes more difficult than it sounds. Just as newly weds need some time to adjust in a new marriage, the same applies to you and a different country.
Should you be in a high demanding job that requires you operate at full speed as soon as you hit the ground, your spouse often feel overwhelmed and lonely. In Europe, USA and America its easier to work as a spouse, but in Africa you are often not allowed to work as an accompanying spouse.
Settling into a new house or apartment, in a new office, driving on the wrong side of the road, in a new car, working with new colleagues, with a strange culture and sometimes stranger language can be quite daunting. It is definitely not for the faint hearted.
Keeping in touch with worried parents, forgetful friends and inquisitive Facebook acquaintances is cumbersome and requires some tact and time.
Finding other interests or keeping up with things you used to love in your home country can be a challenge. There is normally something to do weather it is taking up a sport like tennis, or learning a new skill such as speaking a another language – the secret is in reaching out. All too often I have seen people becoming grid-locked in a vicious triangle of work, house and home country visits. That is so sad as they never feel a sense of belonging, how temporary
If you are unsure of yourself, your own culture, or your origins, you just might be lost forever. Having a partner to share experiences makes it easier. Then again your relationship can only go one of two ways. It can become stronger or explosive. Kids could complicate matters more, especially for first time expats. Some expats are lonely, hermit-like, some wrap themselves up in the new surrounding culture, some count the days to return home and some just take to it like fish to water. Pets are wonderful companions, always happy and non-judgemental. Some expats fly their animals all over the world, some aquire pets in their new base country. There are always expat families happy to continue taking care of the animals once you leave.
Some expats are naturally born Nomads – forever enchanted by distant places. They travel often, and not necessary on home visits. Others are offered insane expat packages with plenty of travel tickets and interesting expat benefits. Most learn from other expats and each new posting results in a better expat package. Many expats venture out once or twice, some make it a career path or life choice.
An old wise man once advised me to find just ONE thing that I really enjoy doing, and to keep doing it.
“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”
I have learned, that I definitely don’t always know what I want, but I am pretty sure now, of the things I don’t like.