It has been three months since you have landed in your new host country. Time has probably passed very fast. This is the initial “honeymoon” period of your overseas move where everything is both new and exciting. You likely feel like you are making a new discovery each day. It is all an adventure, the food, your new coworkers, learning about local customs and etiquettes and the most fun of all is that you get to play tourist.
Wouldn’t it be great if this stays like this for the entire assignment? There is that possibility with a little awareness and foresight. For the moment, however, the best plan is to savor the differences and enjoy all the perks that have come with this expatriate assignment such as an increased salary, a company car, maid and possibly much more depending on your location.
Are you the partner of an expatriate? Finding yourself tagging along with your partner’s assignment and not really having your own purpose? You’ve tried going to the mall, shopping and even joined a gym. All seem to pass the time however none of these activities are giving you the sense of purpose and fulfillment that you had back home while you were a contributing professional.
No matter whether you are the expatriate or the partner of an expat it will soon be time to consider the next steps so that you can get involved in the local society.
Depending on the country you are living in there are bound to be many opportunities to meet others who are in a similar situation. When I was overseas in Kuwait I found one of the best publications available was a directory of services and organizations for expatriates in Kuwait which was published by the British Ladies Society. While I was not a British lady it was a book full of great tips and suggestions from expats who had done it already. That book became a handy resource for my overseas adventure. Don’t overlook organizations and publications even if they may not seem to be an initial fit. There are also many websites which can be very useful for your integration period such as: justlanded.com and internations.org. These offer opportunities to connect with other expatriates.
Your home country’s embassy will likely also be a great place to check the social calendar. I found that they had some of the best social functions and trips which showed me much more of the country than I would have seen on my own. Many of these activities included special private-access tours and excursions. My only regret is that I found out about these well into my expatriate assignment.
Soon the honeymoon phase will come to an end and you will be much better prepared and be able to easily slide into a life filled with social events, activities and many new friendships. Keeping these tips in mind continue to play tourist and enjoy the fun of seeing as many of the sights as you can. While on my assignment, I used to keep a list of the tourist attractions so that I would always have something new to visit. It kept things light and interesting.
Scott Masciarelli, ACC, BCC is a certified professional coach and accomplished leader with extensive professional experience worldwide where he led multicultural teams in a global workplace. Scott works with corporate leaders, business professionals and international travelers who are looking for success on their own terms. He is a multilingual avid traveler who leads clients on transformational adventures in personal leadership. See Scott’s professional page.