According to the Cambridge Dictionary, expatriate is someone who does not live in their own country. That can be a person who has been obliged or not to live outside their own country. The situation depends on the reasons for moving, the duration of the expatriation, and the characteristics of the country in which you will live in. We are unique and every experience is different.
As of the 30th of December 2016, I moved to the UK with my family. It was in the middle of winter and we needed to focus on the basic adaptation needs: food, housing, transportation, keeping warm ... Internet! While everything was falling into place, we took the opportunity and, we still do whenever possible, to go sightseeing in England.
My coaching knowledge has certainly helped me and still do in many ways on this journey. For this reason, in addition to business, executive and life coaching clients, many expats have reached out to apply coaching tools to make their life easier.
Based on my experience, I will share some tips to improve the life of the expatriates.
1. Get ready
There are many practical and personal aspects to consider when making the decision to move. Once you start the process, it helps a lot to maintain a checklist and set priorities according to deadlines. We should leave everything in order in the country of origin: farewells, documents, finances, dentist, doctor, medical exams. You also need to provide everything on the other side: documentation, certificates, visas, tickets, housing, access to health, and other singularities of your new home.
I remember that at one point in the preparation, everything was so overwhelming that I only succeeded after deciding to live one day at a time - literally. If it wasn’t the priority of the day or week on the checklist, it wasn’t a reason for concerns or "pre-occupations." That was key to my balance. Try to live each stage of the process in the easiest and more productive possible way.
Every experience is unique. If you have been through or consider the possibility of relocating, please share your thoughts with us.
2. Enjoy the Journey
The reality of winter in England with cold weather and Sun light from 8:30am to 4:00pm is hard and can affect your mood and energy, especially if you are used to a tropical climate. One of the ways to beat discouragement is to put on a warm coat, gloves, scarf and hat and go sightseeing.
Among the adventures of a coach in the UK, I highlight the charming Café in the Crypt underground St Martin in the Fields Church located at Trafalgar Square next to the National Gallery; the amazing St. Paul's Cathedral, the British and the Natural History Museums, Regent Park near Sherlock Holmes museum and Stonehenge and the cities of Cambridge and Oxford.
In addition to visiting places, after we moved from an Airbnb to a house, we also got a place to go for long walks. The important thing is to seize the opportunities. It will certainly depend on your new home and also on how you see the change. In some cases, sightseeing isn’t an alternative, but there is always something to do.
We are unique, thus every experience is unique. Please share your thoughts with us.
3. Adapt to the New Reality
Even though I had visited England before and I have traveled several times to the United States and worked in multinationals as well, the experience of living in another country is different. Your entire daily routine is changed and what you take for granted in your country of origin may be completely different.
I believe it is important to adapt and respect the local culture for better integration. The British are very polite, kind and respectful. The pace in the streets, transportation and shopping brings an atmosphere of gentleness. I have chosen the topic of driving as an example because it took us months to prepare ourselves to pass the written and practical test to the full UK driver's license.
For those who live in London, public transport is enough but if you want mobility in the commuter belt, driving helps. I thought it would be hard to keep driving on the other side, in fact, that's easy, especially when you have a car to follow. The hard part is to master the roundabouts where you need to join the right track depending on your exit, indicate it and, obviously, give preference to those coming from the right. I could have talked about the weather, clothing, food, queues, shopping, public transportation, leisure activities, cost of living, credit, health, etc.
Every story is unique and I will be glad to learn about yours.
4. Keep in Touch
Anyone who knows me will agree that I have always been close to both British and American cultures. However, when you are far from loved ones, favorite places, food you likes and away from the sun, you can be homesick. I often say that I miss everyone and everything.
Keeping in touch with people you love helps a lot. There are many tools to enable online communication that for me needs voice and video. Social media also helps a lot. Another aspect is that you can’t always get enough news in the local media. Considering that I work with clients in Brazil, Europe and the United States I solved this issue by using three news applications that I check in the morning and evening. These ways of keeping in touch make me feel good.
How about you? Do you like to keep in touch online when personally isn’t feasible?
5. Be Positive
Some people may think that because you have moved to Europe, for example, you now live as a tourist or, in our case, part of royalty. More than that, some may think you are in another dimension, without homesickness, or pain, or problems. Nevertheless, the train gets stuck and delayed for one hour because the control system is down. You could feel awful because it's dark at 4pm in the afternoon, you can’t see anything outside the train and to make matters worse you don’t have Internet. But at this point, you might decide to practice meditation with your eyes wide open and be positive.
Be positive, be optimistic. After the stages of preparation, moving, adaptation and keeping in touch, take advantage of new opportunities.
It may be that your new job will bring you enough challenges to keep you busy. Maybe the tourist phase will continue for a while. But if you lived in a vibrant city like São Paulo that works 24/7 and moves to a city in England where at 6 p.m. the stores start closing and at 10p.m. there is hardly anyone in the streets - be creative.
One of my action plans is to connect with international groups. I try to meet people with whom I have things in common, so the connection happens faster. I would like to mention ICF - International Coach Federation, BNI - Business Network International and Toastmasters - communication and leadership training, among others. Also, you may be surprised with the results of local networking groups and social activities.
Anyway, there is nothing like going for a stroll in your new city and finding a familiar face. If you manage to meet someone with a culture similar to the Brazilian, you might even get a hug. In any place or situation, we can create positive changes with simple actions:
• Be grateful for 3 things each day. Examples: Sunlight, Skype with friend and virtual Yoga class.
• Keep a diary and journal to write about your achievements and adventures.
• Practice any type of physical activity: running, walking, swimming, Yoga, exercises with YouTube videos ...
• Meditate. There are numerous ways of meditating, find yours.
• Practice small acts of kindness such as smiling at a little baby who is smiling at you in the café.
Allow your brain to work more optimistically and satisfactorily anywhere in the world, expatriate or not.
Please share your tips to be happy.
Denise Barbezani is Associate Certified Coach - ACC/ICF at the International Coach Federation. And certified in executive and personal coaching at ICI - Integrated Coaching Institute. She holds an MBA in marketing by one of the most important marketing institutions in Brazil, ESPM. She has 10 years of experience in multinational technology companies. Fluent in English, she holds a Proficiency Certificate from Cambridge University - CPE and a Bachelor of Arts in Portuguese and English as well as a translation degree from Universidade Anhembi Morumbi. She strengthened her entrepreneurship skills at Empretec Training, a UN methodology. Denise has already provided more than 500 hours of coaching and offers her services to more than 50 clients in Brazil and in the world through online sessions. As a coach, she helps people define and achieve their professional, life, and business goals. Today she lives near London, UK, with her family.