Posts Tagged With: expatriation

How to have a successful expatriation

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Being told that you are going to be relocated to a new country may not be easy especially if you were not expecting it !

By training expatriates coming to the UK, I have seen that many were happy but also many entered the UK already with a culture shock ! Why is that ?

The problem with relocations is that we either get hooked on them and look forward to moving to the next place after 3 years or we can get attached to the current country we are in and do not wish to leave.

In the latter case, so if we settled well in the country we are currently in, enjoy the culture and the country it feels alarming to move to a new one. We have to go through the process once again, we need to settle in, learn about the  new culture, leave our friends and family behind once again, and we are getting a little tired. This is one side of the culture shock we may be going through. Another aspect of the culture would be that we have already been in the new country and have experienced very bad things there which have stuck to our minds and hinder us from moving in a positive light ! This happens to some of us, and it is not a good state to be in as we shut ourselves down, duck our heads and just wait for the next assignment to come !

How do we deal with these issues if we are already in culture shock when we arrive to our new country ?

The best is to start afresh, bad experiences happen, and sometimes they are lessons life throw´s at us, we just need to see past them, and perceive them as a lesson rather than a constant which will happen again. The best is to reflect on what happened previously or why it is one is in shock ! If you are in shock because you didn´t want to move, make sure you surround yourself with positive people as these people will show you the beautiful side of your new location and will lift up your spirits ! Because if you surround yourself with people who think the same way then your culture shock will most probably last the entire duration of your assignment and make your life miserable !

So the point is, when in shock, try to identify why it is that you are in that state:  if it is because of a bad experience, try to study this experience and put it into perspective. Once you have identified what is causing your shock, try to see what you could do to reduce it ! Meet new people, surround yourself with positive people, talk to your colleagues, your family, find a coach or a trainer with whom you can discuss it !

Once you have overcome this stage, you will be ready for an exiting time in your assignment, you will enjoy life more, your work and your new country !

Once last thing would be to keep fit, find a routine so that your mind doesn´t wonder off too much, as the mind is our worst enemy in culture shock cases !

 

All the best of luck, and if you need any help, or have examples, feel free to share or contact us !

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„People don´t understand me“ syndrome

When coming back from your expatriation, have you ever thought that people around you in your home country had changed? That to get a pen or some paper in your company, it takes time and you need to go through a lot of paperwork before you get it? What happened, why is it that people don´t understand you?

People haven´t really changed, the one who may have changed is you. Indeed, you have been living abroad for a certain amount of time, adapting to your host country and incorporating some of your host culture´s values and customs. Let´s also not forget that whilst you were abroad you had probably more freedom in your job, you could make your own decisions, direct your own team and get as much paper and pens as you wanted!

Coming back may seem like a culture shock for you because the people you have left behind, whether colleagues, friends or family, have in reality not changed, they have continued to live their lives as before, keeping to their work habits, getting together habits and have kept their usual hobbies. It may seem strange to you and you may feel as if you were the odd one in the group. What you project onto people is actually projected onto you as well; they see you as a different person: you have been away for so long, you have seen different countries, cultures, have picked up new hobbies, have escalated the hierarchy ladder, so for them you are different and that is why they probably do not understand you.

To get back into your home culture smoothly, think about what you have experienced, what has changed in your value system and in your customs, what was important for you in your culture that you didn´t forget on your assignment and think of how you can build a bridge between you and your friends, colleagues, family to enable a smooth repatriation and re-adaptation.

When coming back from your expatriation, have you ever thought that people around you in your home country had changed? That to get a pen or some paper in your company, it takes time and you need to go through a lot of paperwork before you get it? What happened, why is it that people don´t understand you?

People haven´t really changed, the one who may have changed is you. Indeed, you have been living abroad for a certain amount of time, adapting to your host country and incorporating some of your host culture´s values and customs. Let´s also not forget that whilst you were abroad you had probably more freedom in your job, you could make your own decisions, direct your own team and get as much paper and pens as you wanted!

Coming back may seem like a culture shock for you because the people you have left behind, whether colleagues, friends or family, have in reality not changed, they have continued to live their lives as before, keeping to their work habits, getting together habits and have kept their usual hobbies. It may seem strange to you and you may feel as if you were the odd one in the group. What you project onto people is actually projected onto you as well; they see you as a different person: you have been away for so long, you have seen different countries, cultures, have picked up new hobbies, have escalated the hierarchy ladder, so for them you are different and that is why they probably do not understand you.

To get back into your home culture smoothly, think about what you have experienced, what has changed in your value system and in your customs, what was important for you in your culture that you didn´t forget on your assignment and think of how you can build a bridge between you and your friends, colleagues, family to enable a smooth repatriation and re-adaptation.

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The 5 stages of expatriation

When we are given the opportunity by our company to move abroad we go through phases of accommodation to our new role. Now some companies provide you with support and others don´t.  It is a little bit different when we decide ourselves to move abroad for a better life and work experience, however the phases we go through are slightly different as we will be more stressed about it as we take a leap into the unknown.

This article will focus on those who are expatriated by their companies, and another article will be written for those who go on their own.

You have worked for a few years in the headquarter of your company or in the branch of your company which is located in your home country and after x years your boss tells you that you will be relocated to another country. Elisabeth Kübler Ross writes about the 5 stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance) when we lose someone dear to us. In the intercultural field it si a little different however we still go through different phases which are as follows:

1. Happiness

The first time we here we will be relocated we think positively about it, indeed we get to move somewhere else, hopefully where it is sunny, and we have a role with more responsibilities which is great for our career. We start gathering information about the new country, speak about it to all are friends and family and look forward to this new opportunity !

2. Doubt

Is it really happening, am I really going to move away from the ones i love ! I know this country is great and that it is good for my career however how will it be, will I feel good over there, will I have nice colleagues ? All these questions start to pop up in our head a few days or weeks before we are due to leave for our new assignment. Some companies offer their expatriates a first glance of the new country by sending them overseas for a few days to have a look at the new environment and speak to their new colleagues which soothes this feeling a bit. Others do not offer this and that is were some expatriates might feel even more doubtful about this new experience because they are jumping head first into something they don´t know ! This phase will last until you touch down in the new country.

3. Curiosity

You are now in your new home, new country with your new colleagues, the first month will be about settling, finding a home, getting to know your colleagues, discovering the new city and all of this is quite exciting.

Where it splits is after the first or second month, there are two ways we can react:

4.a. Adaptation

You have spent a lot of time going out, exploring the city, getting to know your colleagues, meeting local people and you feel comforted and at home. You are now in the adaptation phase, it is all about understanding what and who is around you.

4.b Depression

You have satisfied your curiosity however you don´t feel good about it and you start questioning everything you see and the way people work around you. You don´t feel comfortable living and working here so unfortunately you fall into depression because you miss your friends and family. This usually happens when we omit to meet with local people to integrate or understand the local culture better. We all react differently to such an experience that is what makes us human !

5. Acceptance and integration

For those of you who have adapted well you finally accept that this is your new home and that you will spend a few years here. You have found new friends, created a network and have colleagues you work well with. For those that went through the depression phase it might be tricky, there are those who stay but whose performance is not very good due to them feeling uncomfortable, and there are those who decide to leave the assignment and return to their countries.

Most expatriation or at least 50% of expatriates fail and return early to their home country because they had problems adapting or integrating to the new culture. There is nothing bad about it, probably they would have needed help which we can provide for example to adapt better to their new host country.

Many of us think that asking for help may be a sign of weakness however in many intercultural texts you will find that the best results in expatriation comes from those who have been helped with the adaptation. Not all of us need help that is true !

Conclusion is that yes some of us may or may not need help however when provided with training/ briefing or coaching before leaving for a new country can accelerate the process of integration.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Culture Shock | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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