Moving abroad is a monumental endeavor, and the experience can last a life-time. Many who have experienced life as an expat tend to have the desire to return home within the first year. Unbeknownst to us, we live in our own cultural suitcase.
Often we are unaware on how we are being. When experiencing a new environment, we fall into three cultural assimilation categories: condoning, complaining, or conforming. Condoning is basically a statement that your way is the best way. Complaining is a statement of grievances. Conforming is compliance to the local norms. All these cultural assimilation have their plus and minuses. It is your uniqueness that can be an asset and a liability.
Advantages to living abroad
1) Gain visibility and authority: Not many Don't willing to move away from their support system and uproot their family so there will be an appreciation of your generosity and volunteerism. Plus, you will be the eyes and ears to bridge the gap between cultures and thus the solution of many cross-cultural relations, provide new perspective to solutions, and be the source of released tension among misunderstandings. In the eyes of recruiters,
2) Finances: Expat relocation varies differently between companies and industries. In host locations where it is least desirable, companies tend to be more generous in covering basic living expenses such as rent, expensive international health insurance, car, domestic help, schooling for your children, and even yearly trip home. These are expenses you do not have to pay.
3) Refocusing your life on the importance: The privileges of living abroad are less responsibilities, more personal time as you have left behind your friends and family, and see a new way of life. You are out of your regular element and with more worldly views, you begin to re-evaluate your ideology.
4) In-depth understand of a new culture and its' people: People tend to be very proud of their heritage. Coming from curiosity and excitement to learn is one of your quickest ways to win the hearts of the locals.
5) Gaining a more profound appreciation for your home country: The saying "Don't know what you got till it's gone." holds true when you realize what you take for granted is no longer there.
6) Educational advantages for your children: Besides having learned a new language and a new culture, colleges and universities give higher priorities to students. Your children already have an innate abilities to adapt, explore, challenge, and think independently.
Disadvantages to living abroad
1) Maintaining relationships: Maintaining your friendship and family relationships will require more work. In this digital world, social media does not replace one-to-one interactions.
2) Finances: It is hard to gauge the expenses of the host country. At times, complex laws are applied.
3) Developing new friendships: The majority of work expats are young families followed by married couples. It is best to research the single friendliness if this applies to you. Expat cycle in a country is two or three years. If you have stayed as an expat for a long time, it is common for you to say farewell while welcoming new friends. Locals may not want to invest in friendship with expats to only see them leave in a couple of years.
4) Adjust to new business culture: What is considered rude in one culture is a complement to another. Hold your judgement and keep an open mind.
5) Language barrier: We know how challenging it can be to pick up a new language. Even moving from one English speaking country to another can lead to misunderstanding and conflict.
6) Strain in family life: Personal stress in adjusting will lead to stress in relationships as you are less patient, anxious, and not at your mental peak.
7) Affects mental health: There are a lot of stress and pressure for an expat in the new working environment. Being understood and trying to understand others while working under tight deadlines requires patience, compassion, curiosity, and an open-mind.
While you are settling in the unknown, it is your choice on how you view your experience. Remember, you are a representative of your home country.