There is a dream that if you live abroad you will be on an eternal holiday with sands and blue skies and no stress. Sadly the reality is a very similar reality to your daily life in whatever country you currently live. So yes, there are Expat Life Stressors that you need to learn to handle. Of course there are advantages, fun opportunities and amazing people you meet to.
Reading many expat forums and blogs will give you a good feeling about what your particular location-to-be is like in terms of geography and culture. But there are also universal stressors that every relocated person and family feel at points in the process. The trick is to learn what they are, then to recognise them when they occur, and finally learn to manage your emotions as you take the roller coaster ride that is expat life.
The top 5 factors that increase your stress when living abroad, in no particular order are:
Missing family, particularly during the holidays. Try to arrange trips over these dates if possible to help maintain the traditions you miss. Utilise Skype fully though it is never the same as in person visits.
Making new friends, as even the most social can find new cultural etiquette rules difficult to assimilate. Making local friends takes time and energy and is very tough, but the rewards are great as they will furnish you with local tips that can make your move so much easier.
Transacting any kind of business in a foreign country, as every country has a slightly different way of doing things. Cultural differences that you are not aware of - where to pay taxes / fines / bills / services leads to many frustrations.Read culture shock guides for your country so you can have at least an inkling of the points to look out for and where to start to find solutions.
Getting Sick… It is hard to explain symptoms in a foreign language. When you are sick, you are at your lowest and often the ‘foreign’ part of your brain cuts out and only wants to hear your maternal language. Medicine brands will be different from home country. Do you need a prescription or not? Do you need to register at a doctor or not? What does your health insurance cover? Most countries rely on private health insurance for medical needs, so make sure you have suitable cover for your needs.
Finding all the everyday services you need in a new country that often are based on recommendations. This covers everything from plumbers, through hairdressers to Schools if you have children. Everyday you will be bombarded with new information to store and assimilate for possible future scenarios.
So why do people do it? Well there are fun aspects too…
The cultural experience of opening your mind to a new world and way of doing things is second to none. It is a life changing citizen and will start you on the journey of being a truly global citizen.
Friends. The friends you make all over will become life-long friends as you make friends often fast and deep when thrown together out of your comfort zone. When you move on, you will have homes all over the world that are open to you for visits.
Opportunities to travel. Visiting countries near your new location will be a lot easier than when you lived far away. You can discover and enjoy local festivals, take far longer discovering a city that otherwise maybe just a weekend getaway.
You family unit will grown stronger as you have to work together as a team. You will experience things that bind you together. I often see expat siblings with far stronger relationships between them then families who have always been in one place. The siblings are one of the few constants in their lives, so the bond is stronger. Of course the fights are also often more volcanic as well as a result!
International experience is great for your CV / Resume. Understanding and working in different cultures in today’s business marketplace has far reaching possibilities. You will have some great stories to tell as well as you come to terms with the new culture.
This website is designed to aid you make the jump overseas far more enjoyable and informed. Check out my relocation tool-kit page for free downloads and recommendations. The Jump Overseas online Relocation Academy has specific coaching modules to help you through the hardest points in a relocation when you need directional help.
I always find the paperwork the most frustrating in France ... also the rules and the difference between 'Interdit' and 'Strictement Inderdit'. The first is forbidden... if you like, and the second is 'Absolutely Forbidden'. So the second is the one you are only likely to get fined doing!