Top 10 Keys to Success in a Foreign Land

Posted on January 17, 2012. Filed under: Expat, Relationship | Tags: , , , , |

Moving to a foreign country or even a new city in your own country can be an exciting, yet overwhelming experience. You may be going through the loss of the familiar, while also experiencing discomfort and uncertainty with the new. Here are some tips that can be helpful for you as you transition to your new home.

1. Remember Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day: Cultural adjustment takes time. Be fair with yourself. Expect that integration into a new culture can be challenging. Be patient with yourself you are in a process of learning.
2. Compare Notes: Chat with other expatriates you know and share your experiences with one another.
3. You Got Skills Girlfriend: List your accomplishments, internal resources and transferable skills that you possess and apply them to your current life circumstance. If you do not possess those skills, develop the necessary skills. Some examples include mindfulness and stress reduction techniques.
4. Spread Your Wings So You Can Fly: Research about your new location, seek out expat clubs, business associations, sporting groups and other social clubs (ask to be included before you leave home or get involved today).
5. Muster Up The Courage: Explore your new community because it will give you a sense of control.
6. Be Alert Of Signs Of Mental Illness: An expatriate assignment, like any significant life change, can worsen or even precipitate mental illness such as depression, anxiety or a range of adjustment disorders. The expatriate who experiences deep and persistent adjustment difficulty or mood changes, or observes the same in a family member, should seek the advice of a mental health professional.
7. Learn The Local Language: Learn the basics before you go to lower the impact of culture shock on arrival or begin learning today.
8. Try To Leave Judgments Behind: Try your hardest not to compare your new location with your old location…comparing will hinder your ability to settle in…accept that different people and cultures have different ways of operating this can help you reduce nasty culture shock.
9. Smile: Despite it being hard sometimes, try to shift your mood and turn that frown upside down.
10. Reframe From Regret To Rejoicing: Although you need to acknowledge the grief and loss of your career/job and your friends and family, you can also look at this transition as an opportunity. Celebrate that you have the freedom and time to do what you have always wanted, explore your new surroundings, travel to new countries and meet new people, start your own business, pursue higher education, get healthy, pursue a new hobby, learn a new language, give back, take culture classes, spend more quality time with your partner and kids, learn about the stock market, take your time to relax and get balanced…the possibilities are endless.

For additional resources, support or counseling you can visit my website at True Potential Counseling. I am an English speaking Counselor who provides counseling to expats, business men and women abroad, and cross-cultural couples.

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Culture Shock

Posted on November 17, 2011. Filed under: Communication, Expat, Health, Lifestyle | Tags: , , , , , |

Arriving to an unfamiliar country can be a daunting and scary experience especially if we feel isolated or do not speak the language.  Typically when we are in a situation outside of our comfort zone, we tend to withdraw, isolate and focus on the grief and loss of our friends, careers and familiar culture back home.  It takes a great amount of courage to step outside of our comfort zone and experience a lifestyle different from our own.  The phases of adaptation consists of the following: the honeymoon phase, culture shock, recovery, culture shock, recovery, culture shock, and then breaking through to adjustment.

A foreigner can can continually fluctuate from each of these phases over the course of 1 month to 3+ years.  Some symptoms you may experience if you are having difficulty adjusting is feeling depressed, anxious, withdrawing, becoming angry or reactive, overeating, under eating, loneliness, having difficulty in your relationships with your spouse or your children, feeling restless or sleeping all the time or abusing substances like alcohol.  If you are in need of emotional support or are interested in getting on the fast track on alleviating your distress around adaptation and assimilation please contact me at http://www.truepotentialcounseling.com/go/contact/.  I am located in Europe and provide individual and couple’s counseling to expats in Milan, Italy and online counseling to English speakers overseas and in the USA.

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Observing Yourself

Posted on March 8, 2011. Filed under: Expat, Health, Lifestyle, Relationship | Tags: , , , , , |

Observing yourself is a helpful tool on your journey through life. When you get stuck in a pattern, a thought, a relationship or at work and you don’t know how to get unstuck, watch yourself. If you find yourself reacting or feeling hopeless as thought things are never going to change or shift look at yourself neutrally without judgment. This can be a powerful tool to change the dynamics in your relationships, in your work environment and your internal dialogue and thought patterns. In becoming aware of your thinking, feeling, how you react and how you act, without reproach, then you will become aware of your choices, so you can change and grow in a new way.

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