If you are considering moving abroad or have recently become an expat, I highly recommend downloading my pre-departure expat workbook which covers the emotional and logistical planning you should do before moving.
Pre-departure preparations are essential for moving abroad. The expat life is exciting and challenging and it’s important you feel in control of the decisions you are making. I highly recommend you do the following before moving:
Most of the preparations we make before going abroad are logistical – flights, housing, visas, etc. The emotional toll an international move can take new expats by surprise. This is not to in any way dissuade you from moving abroad. Making the choice to be an expat will likely be the best choice you’ve ever made for your personal development and career. Understanding what culture shock is will help you prepare to deal with it.
Culture shock, or culture fatigue, is the process of adapting to a new and different culture. It can often result in feelings of confusion, anxiety, loneliness, frustration, and inappropriate cultural actions. The hardest part of culture shock is when your expectations do not align with your experienced reality.
How can you prepare for the struggle of culture shock when you don’t even know what to expect? The best ways to be ready for it are to work through your personal goals for moving abroad and when times get tough, work on and focus on those goals.
I offer my clients personalized coaching to work through culture shock. If you are a pre-departure expat concerned about moving or a new expat struggling with culture shock, I would love to work with you through your challenges. Most expats struggle at some level with culture shock – you are not alone and it is possible to work through.
If coaching isn’t right for you, I recommend working through my pre-departure expat workbook.
Moving from surviving to enjoying the expat experience usually occurs anywhere from 3 months to a year after you arrive in a new country. Some people decide never to enjoy the experience and there are reports that up to 40% of expat assignments fail – with the expat never adapting to the new culture.
It ultimately comes down to you developing the flexibility and adaptability to thrive and enjoy your new location. Learning a new culture is hard – I’ve heard the same complaints from people in Paris and Eritrea. It’s not necessarily about the location (although some places do offer unique challenges!), it’s about your mindset. The three most important things I’ve learned about enjoying the expat experience are: