Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Most Stressful Times

 “It is not the destination where you end up but the mishaps and memories you create along the way!” Penelope Riley, Travel Absurdities

Long time #expats know the routine: you've taken a job that will require you to #relocate.  A few avid  travelers take pleasure imagining the possibilities and enjoy having to face the unknown but for most people, it's very hard to deal with change, to loose control over your environment and have to relearn to perform the most mundane tasks like buying food or taking a cab.

Some of the most #stressful life events (after death and serious illness) are those involving change: a relocation, a new job, a change in responsibilities, a new school, change in living conditions...  Hello!! once you've accepted your overseas assignment you and your family will face these stressful situations all at once and all of you at the same time.

Give it time.  The kids will make friends and you will figure out your commute. I've been in Italy for almost a year now and I can honestly say, that I am over the settling period and I'm having a blast.  I've made friends, the kids are really happy at school and my husband is also comfortable with his daily life.

There is so much to see in your new country!  If you are having a bad day, pretend you are a tourist and go out to see the sights, take some photos to send back home to your loved ones.  Join a tour, learn a bit about the culture.  It helps tremendously to learn a few phrases of the language of your host country.  In most places folks will be happy that you at least tried to say a few pleasantries in their language.

Be patient with your spouse and your children as they are too in adjustment mode.  If you have elementary age kids, try to go to school and participate as much as you can.  You will meet people, arrange play-dates for them and help them make friends.  If you have teenagers, it may be more difficult to help create friendships but some efforts can be made to introduce them to others in the same situation.  I've learned that most international schools are great at making the new students feel welcome.  They will find many other expats and TCKs (third culture kids) who know what it feels to be the new kid in town.

Once, I volunteered to help a new family who had just arrived to China a week before Christmas.  It was their first time living overseas and of course China is not the easiest of postings.  It took them a long time to be ready to explore and stop longing for their lives back home (oh Target, if you only knew how much you were missed).   By the time this family ended their four year tour, they all loved the lives they had built in China and up until now, we get together and talk with nostalgia about our time there.

We all adjust, each person just takes their own time to do it.  Good luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment