Have you ever been on holiday or a short business trip to a new country and thought ‘I could live here’? The two weeks you spend are joyous, the food is interestingly different, and the culture fascinating… However, relocating to a new country is a radically different experience to a short-term visit. You’ll still be there once the ‘honeymoon’ is over.
Having worked with thousands of individuals and families on both our pre and post-deployment programs, we’d like to share a few tips to make the adjustment as smooth as possible:
Prepare. Seek information and advice about the local people, history and culture. Access local news websites and become familiar with local issues and popular culture. Absorb as much information as possible from a wide variety of sources about your new home.
Pace yourself. To successfully relocate and live for more than six months in a new location you need to play a ‘long game’. It will take time to find your place in your new community, establish relationships and know where you fit in.
Create a sense of ‘home’. Remember, home is a sense of belonging and unique to you. What rituals can you maintain? Is it the smell of coffee in the morning? Is it the sound of your favourite music? Do you like to cook? Do you always run on the weekends? If you are relocating with others, remind them of the things they love about home. Try to keep some continuity in your life. Small things can be nurtured anywhere in the world.
Look for people who can support you. It might not be the same people you lean on at home. Their lack of understanding of what you are going through may sometimes make things harder. Expat communities are a great support – they have already ‘been there, done that’.
Be gentle on yourself and those around you. You can’t force adaptation. Not everyone will adapt at the same time. Everyone is under pressure and copes in the best way they know how. To preserve relationships, remember, this is a challenging time, be patient.
Take time out. A mini break from your new location to a third destination can help. While it may be tempting to want to ‘work through’ and get everything under control at the office, a brief break can help gain perspective. When you return, somehow your new place feels more like home than when you left.
You got this…Hang in there. It’s normal to be overwhelmed at points. Don’t underestimate the amount you have already learned, and the skills and life experience you bring. Think back, what worked for you in a previous period of change in your life? Many of those strategies will also work now.
Beasley Intercultural has supported thousands of employees and their families to make a successful transition when relocating internationally. Our programs facilitate better adjustment and productivity on arrival, minimise foreseeable risk, and ensure duty of care is addressed. Contact us now to find out about how our pre and post-deployment programs can help you or your team.