No emergency contact. When we decide to take an international assignment and plan our trip abroad, the logistics and practical issues take a front seat. We rarely know the typical phases of cultural adjustment and how to prepare for potential pitfalls.
Claire was distraught.
She came into the session shaken and for several minutes couldn’t even articulate what had happened. After some minutes, I could see some tears come down her cheek. “I did not imagine this could happen. Not in a million years.” She spoke softly while taking some small sips of water. After some breathing exercises to calm down a bit, Claire began to explain what was going on.
She had gone to a clinic to get a checkup and the doctor recommended some tests. In one of the tests, she’d be put under and the clinic asked for someone to be her emergency contact. And it hit her. She did not have one.
Claire was an expat in a foreign country. She had left her home country to start a new position in her company. It was the opportunity of a lifetime and at the same time experience a new culture, new environments. She was thrilled.
Being single was also a plus since she didn’t have to deal with accommodating a partner’s needs and she could do her own thing. It couldn’t get better than that. Right?
When she realised that in the six months she’d been in her new position she had worked herself to exhaustion, met many people but had almost no real friends and ended up with chronic headaches, that wasn’t at all what she had imagined how her time abroad would be like.
And to top it off, she felt a blow in the stomach when she could not think of a single person she could write down as an emergency contact.
These issues are a lot more common than you’d think. When we decide to take an international assignment and plan our trip abroad, the logistics and practical issues take a front seat. We rarely know the typical phases of cultural djustment and how to prepare for potential pitfalls.
We rarely articulate our underlying intentions and identify potentially fatal mistakes. We rarely prepare ourselves emotionally and have a strategy to structure our adjustment in the new culture. And then we ask ourselves why sh*t
Claire didn't prepare her departure but she very quickly identified she needed help to understand how to deal objectively with the challenges of cultural transition.
She searched for help and after her coaching sessions she was able to articulate the issue, set her goals and set an action plan to achieve it. She became equipped with the knowledge and awareness of the impact of her decisions in the many different areas of her life.
Having this structured approach to the adjustment made her aware that winging it does not work and the emotional costs were quite high. She was able to reverse the process and start creating her new reality with goals and boundries.
**NEXT WEEK - HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS ABROAD**
READ ALL PREVIOUS PARTS of Move Overseas With Ease here.
Click here to receive the complete Move Overseas With Ease E-book for FREE.
For regular tips and ideas to deal with issues that are relevant to the international experience, subscribe to, or just visit my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/deborahdahab, where I upload a new video full of advice every two weeks.
I am an expat coach and intercultural psychologist. I am also a seasoned expat, born in Brazil, and lived my childhood in the United States.
Throughout the years I have lived, studied, and worked in 5 different countries on 3 continents. In my many moves, I have experienced successful transitions and many more complete failures. My own experience, coupled with my observation of other people’s experiences, motivated me to search for answers as to why do we sometimes fail and how to succeed when moving to a new culture. This quest led me to pursue a Master's in Intercultural Psychology and complete a coaching certification and a practitioner certification in NLP.
With these tools in hand, I found myself equipped to help expats and expats-to-be overcome the challenges of moving so they can create their best life abroad.