Archive for June, 2009

Best Answer To Date To The Dreaded “Where Are You From?”

Posted on 29. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Life, Musings & Inspiration, Relocation
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Overheard recently during a conversation between expats, from a lady who is raising several TCKs:

“Some people think it’s hard for the children – but if you ask mine where they’re from, they’ll ask you, “Why? What difference does it make?”
To them it just doesn’t matter – they are who they are, period.”

Don’t you love it? What a great, inspiring answer!

Where are you from? I don't know!

Secure in their identity, down-to-earth and confident.

Smiling Cookies

It sounds to me like you have it figured out, kids!

Emmanuelle

Image by Karmor (top) and lamusa (bottom), both via Flickr Creative Commons

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Home Leave: Why It’s Hard And What To Do About It

Posted on 26. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Life, Relocation, Tools & Resources
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Several readers commented, here and on Twitter, that even going home for a short visit felt difficult and weird.

That’s so true. Every time I go back to France to visit my mother, I go through a mini culture shock. It feels strange being surrounded by crowds again, and why are the streets so noisy? I didn’t use to think of my hometown as a noisy place. How did that happen?

Oh wait, it’s not France that’s changed. It’s me. And it’s not just a matter of being accustomed to the spaciousness and relaxed pace of life in Vancouver. I have changed on a much more fundamental level. My values have changed. My culture has changed.

Going home is painful because it forces me to face how much of a cultural mutt I am becoming. Not 100% Canadian, but no longer 100% French either. That’s hard to accept, the fact that our identities are slippery things. And it’s also very hard not to judge the French way of doing things from my new Canadianized viewpoint. Which makes me feel like a traitor. Great.

Another thing that makes home leave hard and stressful is that you don’t really have time to process all these weird, uncomfortable feelings. There are people to visit, places to go. No time to deal with your emotions. The clock is ticking and the race is on.

The clock is ticking...

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Going Back Home: Smart Coping Strategies

Posted on 24. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Life, Relocation, Tools & Resources
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In Going Back Home: Why you’re in for a rough time, we looked at what makes returning to your home country even harder than going away in the first place.

I know you’re probably not thrilled at the prospect of going through culture shock all over again, and in your own country at that!

It seems unfair, unnecessary, and completely paradoxical. You may feel angry, hopeless (Will I ever be happy again?) or resentful toward your home country.

Your worst enemy in this situation is the assumption that things should be easy and that everything should be back to normal because you’re home again.

But if you can distance yourself from those expectations, you’ll see that life abroad has already taught you all the strategies you need to cope with this transition.

One step at a time

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Going Back Home: Why You’re In For A Rough Time

Posted on 22. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Life, Relocation
4 comments

So you’re going home. Maybe your international assignment is over. Maybe your family needs you back home. Maybe you simply did not love the expat life as much as you thought you would, and you would rather be home.

Whatever the reason, I wish you the best of luck – and I need to warn you: it’s going to be hard.

As in, mind-bogglingly hard.

“Wait”, you say, “how could it be that hard? I’m going home. You know, that place I know inside and out? That place where I belong? It can’t be that tough, right?”

Well, I have bad news. Not only is it going to be hard, it’s probably going to be even harder than going abroad in the first place.

Yes, harder than landing in some strange place where you didn’t know a soul, didn’t speak the language and didn’t understand the customs.

How could that be?

Huh?

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International Relocation: Moving On, Trust And Commitment

Posted on 19. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Life, Musings & Inspiration, Relocation, Tools & Resources
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As you took the time to say goodbye to your current home, you acknowledged the place that you are about to leave behind. You took stock of what was important about living there, and why it was meaningful to you.

Now it is time to gently let go of it, look to the future and move on.

Migrating birds - V-formation

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International Relocation: What’s Your Relationship With Change?

Posted on 17. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Life, Relocation, Tools & Resources
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Stress is kind of a big deal during an international move. Tell anyone you’re moving – even if it’s within the same block, let alone to another country! – and you’ll hear a chorus of “Oh, I hate moving, it’s so stressful!”

Where does all that stress come from? Of course, part of it is the sheer amount of work and the dozens of tasks that you have to juggle, coordinate and keep track of. Not fun. Not fun at all.

But that’s just the logistics. On the emotional level, you are going through a wild roller coaster ride. You go from fear to excitement to overwhelm within the same minute. You’d give anything for a bit of quiet and stability, but that’s not in the cards at the moment.

Rollercoaster

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International Relocation: Should You Take Your Pets When You Move?

Posted on 15. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Life, Relocation, Tools & Resources
2 comments

As a pet owner, you may be faced with a tough decision when planning your move. Should your four-legged companions relocate too, or should you find a new home for them?

If your animal is elderly, in poor health or highly sensitive to stress, it may be in its best interest to stay behind. Make sure to leave it in good hands and for goodness’s sake, never, ever abandon a pet!

In most other cases, you will be able to take your pets with you, and I strongly encourage you to do so.
I know I am opening a can of worms here, but unless there was some major difficulty, I would not dream of leaving a pet behind any more than I would any other family member. That’s just me though, and obviously many people feel differently, or animal shelters would not be nearly as full as they are…

Man and dog

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WBSD: 5 Ways Food Can Boost Your Expat Social Life

Posted on 13. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Musings & Inspiration, Tools & Resources
17 comments

Hurray! World Blog Surf Day is here! Many thanks to our lovely organiser, Sher of Czech Off The Beaten Path.

World Blog Surf Day is an online event that connects expat bloggers from around the world. This time around, the theme is food, an inspiring topic if there ever was one!

2nd World Blog Surf Day
Photo credit: NASA, Public Domain

If this is your first time here, hi! My name is Emmanuelle and I will be your waitress tonight,… er, no, sorry. Getting carried away with the food theme here – and it’s only the first paragraph! I can tell this is going to be interesting.

I am a French expat currently living in beautiful Vancouver, BC, in Western Canada. This blog is all about helpful tips and resources to help expats and accompanying partners thrive in their life abroad.

In this spirit, and because my motto might as well be, “Give me practical tips or give me death!”, I give you:

5 ways food can boost your expat social life

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International Relocation: How To Help Your Family Cope

Posted on 12. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Life, Relocation, Tools & Resources
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So far we’ve been talking about what you can do, as an individual, to prepare for your move and leave well. If you are relocating with your partner or children, your job doesn’t end there. Each family member will have to find ways to cope with the move, and of course you want to make sure that they all get the love and support they need.

Even if you are single, your move is likely to affect loved ones back home. Maybe your aging parents were secretly hoping that you would move back closer to them rather than move onto your next international assignment. Maybe your big sister, who has always been concerned about your safety, is having trouble sleeping now that you told her you’re going to the Middle East.

No international move happens in a vacuum. Which is why you need a plan to deal not only with your own emotions, but with those of your loved ones as well.

5 steps to make everyone feel heard, safe and supported

Reflective kids...

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International Relocation: Stock Up On Memories

Posted on 10. Jun, 2009 by in Blog, Expat Life, Relocation, Tools & Resources
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While leaving friends behind is always hard, it is often the places themselves that I end up missing the most. With friends, you can email, phone, and send birthday cards. With places, it is more difficult to “stay in touch”. So stock up on memories while you can!

Take the time to say goodbye to the place you are leaving. Say goodbye to your house. Revisit your favourite spots. Go visit a museum or hike a trail you never got around to seeing, so that you leave with as few regrets as possible.

Soak up the atmosphere – one day you might miss it so much that you will almost hurt physically with longing.

Goodbye!

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