Expatriate Connection – A Unique Reflection On 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, let me take you on a journey: the story of an expat family through all the articles published on the blog this year. 2013

All characters appearing in this work are not fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead should be plainly apparent to them and those who know them. Nearly all events described herein actually happened, though on occasion the author has taken certain, very small, liberties with names, chronology and location to protect the integrity, sanity and well-being of above mentioned persons who might be shocked in recognizing themselves.

So here we go:

Peter didn’t win the Nobel Prize. Nevertheless when he got this amazing offer for a job abroad – responsible for an international team, doubling his salary – he knew it was once in a lifetime opportunity.

He talked to his spouse Mary. He was so thrilled. He convinced her. A new challenge, a new country, a new culture. In short a new adventure.

While Mary liked the idea, she was a bit more reserved. How would the children take the news? They needed to know about the move without being stressed out, specially their 5 year-old son.

Mary resigned from her job. They sold their house. They organized farewell parties.

And off they went, very excited and a bit anxious.

However they never expected such a culture shock. The kids couldn’t tell much but luckily Mary and Peter knew what to do and what to say.

The first few months were stressful. But when they uncovered why expats are always so tired, they stopped worrying and threw them into embracing the new culture. They applied those 8 tips that really work to learn a foreign language. The children picked it up quickly but Mary struggled. She felt discouraged… until she realized how a simple belief could just make her thrive and restore her self confidence. She worked hard to make social contacts within the local community. She made friends with fellow expatriates that she wisely chose. Because she came with new eyes, she immediately noticed 15 surprising facts about her host country that she could share with local people quite amused by her foreign point of view.

When everybody was settled however, Mary felt empty. What now? As a trailing spouse, she couldn’t feel happy. She needed to redefine a purpose in her life. A spouse stipend that Peter negotiated for her with his company proved to be of great assistance. She could use it to shape her future.

Meanwhile Peter was extremely busy, distant and stressed with his new responsibilities. Mary missed the daily interactions with her colleagues and her friends. She felt lonely. People in this country were quite cold and didn’t even greet her when they crossed in the street. She became angry at her host country. How would she ever come to terms with this foreign land?

When she accepted to move, she didn’t realize she’d be back in the kitchen, cleaning the house, performing nearly all household chores that brought so little intellectual fulfillment to say the least. Mary grieved the loss of her professional identity, the loss of a career, the imbalance in the couple. Some unpleasant aspects of the invisible force ruling her marriage came up. Would their couple survive such a big disruption? Luckily she applied 3 simple but essential tips for expat women to keep her marriage. Peter used the 3 simple but essential tips for expat men to prevent their relationship from falling apart.

After only a few months abroad, Peter got more responsibilities. He needed to supervise another branch in the neighbouring country. He had to travel frequently and to spend weeks away. Without knowing it, Peter and Mary had become orphan spouses. While Mary was fully self-reliant for household tasks and childcare, she missed Peter’s company. While Peter enjoyed traveling, he felt he was missing out on his life. He was losing precious souvenirs with his children. Stranded in hotel rooms and meetings venues, he couldn’t enjoy the warmth of a family cocoon. They were all experiencing ambiguous loss: physical absence but psychological presence. Luckily they could laugh from time to time, certainly when they read this humorous guide for parents with teenagers moving country.

This was short lived for 3 weeks ago, Peter got bad news. Due to adverse economic condition, his office had to close down. One month before Christmas, Peter lost his job abroad.

The whole family is now in disarray. This year, they weren’t tempted to put a lot of efforts in keeping their traditions during the Holiday Season.

What will happen to them? 2014

Stay tuned in 2014.

Life still goes on…

 

“The greatest glory of living lies not in never falling but in rising every time you fall”

Nelson Mandela                       Click to tweet

 

Thanks for your precious support.

 

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Comments

  1. Ute (expatsincebirth) says:

    Thank you for all the precious advices you’re giving for everyone on an expat-journey! Your insights are so thoughtful and incredibly helpful. Dankjewel, thanks, danke, grazie, gracias, merci 😉

    • Dear Ute, thank you very much for your very kind words. I’m extremely grateful for your feedback and honoured to count you as a reader 🙂 Hartelijk dank!

      2014/1/1 Disqus

  2. Sounds like a great journey with many experiences that so many others can share. They should blog about it 😉 Have enjoyed reading this year & hope you’ll be able to keep sharing.

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