Is Expat Living for Me? (Part 2: Change Continues)

In Part 1 of this series, we looked at how we handle change and how we approach learning and personal growth, as it relates to moving overseas.  In this post, we will look at more questions regarding change, focusing on more specific situations.

So, let’s dive in again …

Am I a person who gives up easily when things get tough?

There will be a period of adjustment once you settle in to your new life.  There will be tough days when nothing makes sense, and you shake your head and think, “What have I done?”  (There will be other days too when you shake your head and marvel at the richness of your new life and experiences.)himanshu-singh-gurjar-106819

So, what is your pattern when it comes to difficulty?

Are you someone who sticks it out, believing it will be worth it?

Do you have a pattern of running when things get tough?

Do you fall back on habits or addictions?

It’s important to think through these questions because … like it or not, there will be those days …  and understanding your own patterns or tendencies in tough times can help you navigate and calibrate your responses.

leio-mclaren-171369When Brenda and I made our first move overseas, we found ourselves in a work situation that, although in our same field as at home, ran counterclockwise to everything we had been trained to do, questioned all our professional skill, and pushed us to the limits emotionally day after day.  I remember lying on the floor one night, thinking, “This is just too hard.”  But, once having come to the end of my rope at about that six-month mark, light began to dawn.  We began to realize that if we didn’t work so hard at everything, if we relaxed our expectations, if we learned to laugh a bit when things didn’t go the way we planned, that we were a lot happier.  And when we were happier, we were … well, happier about everything. In the second six months of that one-year experience, we concentrated on seeing the beauty around us, the richness of the cultural differences, and the amazing opportunity we had in our laps to enjoy, take advantage of, and make memories with.  And that is what made our tough days worth it, and provided the majority of our wonderful memories.

The night on the floor at six months was a turning point.  You will have your own turning point … if you stick it out long enough for it to turn.


How do I handle bureaucracy?

In many countries, it just takes a long time to get things done, especially when dealing with government agencies.  I remember in one country where we lived, we walked into an immigration office to get a document signed, and the lady was doing her nails.  She informed us that the document couldn’t be signed that afternoon because she had too much to do.  We would need to come back another day.  And yet, she had time to paint her nails before, while, and after she talked with us.

At that point, we had two choices – accept the situation and make the best of it – or raise our voices, point out her obvious inconsistency, and demand the signature.  (Resulting, I’m sure, in more delays because rudeness is not responded to well in Latin America.)  We decided to go with the flow, came back the next day, got the signature, and life went on with little stressing about it.

ludwig-thalheimer-124154Every country will have its own version of the changes you will encounter.  But these questions are pretty much common across cultures.  Knowing how you respond to change as well as your own beliefs regarding growth and your own patterns of behavior can serve you well as you move overseas.

So … at the end of each of these blogs, I will ask you this question: “Is part-time expat living for me?”

Well … don’t answer until you’ve looked at all the angles, but perhaps there will be something stirring within you as you read and think …  that will appeal to you and propel you forward a little closer.

Just because the questions may be hard or very revealing, it doesn’t mean that the answer is no.  It just means that the answer is working its way to the top of your consciousness.  There will be days after some blogs when you say might say, “NO!”  And there will be other days when it will be a resounding, “YES!”

Take the time to go through the thinking process.  The answer will emerge, and maybe even take you by surprise.

So … here is the question.  “Is part-time expat living for me?”


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