Sundae Bean Blog - Part 3: Adapting to Your Expat Life

Date Created: 16.06.2015

The Answer to this Question is Key

You've made the big move and landed in your new home. You've learned to nimbly (or, let´s be honest, on some days clumsily) jump over the most important hurdles of adjusting to your new environment. Now it's time to do something important: Celebrate!

Too often an entire family performs daunting feats of flexibility only to rush off and dive into their new routines. If you´ve “landed” (and I don´t mean at the airport, I mean in your new life), then take a moment to look back, take a deep breath and acknowledge all that you´ve just achieved. Why not make the most of it, and consider doing it ceremoniously during a family pizza night at home, or in a newly discovered restaurant in your neighborhood.

For me, when I finally “landed” in Ouagadougou, it was almost time to leave again on Christmas break. Anticipating how I'd manage to sum up this incredible entrée into a new life to my friends and family was actually the perfect opportunity for me to take stock of what my family had accomplished in the first four months.

It was important for me to name what hurdles I had jumped through, and I could somewhat anticipate what was still ahead of me. Because I was running my own business, I was lucky in the sense that there was a clear plan before me on how I´d spend my time in this new location. For many accompanying partners, however, this path is not quite as clear.

One pattern I see among some expat spouses is an unexpected and silent realization that they feel stuck. You would never know it by speaking to these energetic, talented and engaging individuals at the school drop-off. Deep down, however, there is an unarticulated burning question: “Now what?”

This question comes up slowly and quietly, often overpowered by the sound of acknowledgement of the unique opportunity to be living a life of adventure. But the voice is still there.

If this question starts to come up for you, it is time to go back to the basics. Revisit your “Big Whys”

·         What is it that you and your family wanted to get out of this experience?

·         Are you getting what YOU came here for?

·         What is working? What is not?

·         What is it that you really want?

The answers to these questions create clarity for your future.

Be bold. Know that you can make the most of your life abroad. It is simply a matter of knowing the next steps.

Sundae Schneider-Bean is an intercultural specialist, coach and trainer based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (West Africa). Sundae helps expats and their partners answer the all-important question, “Now What?” Sign up for free expert insight and you´ll receive a gift – the Expat Trump Cards – a unique set of digital cards aimed at helping you make the most of your life abroad.