Three months have passed since you have arrived in your host country. You have probably noticed that the time has passed very fast. This is the initial, honeymoon, period of your overseas move where everything is both new and exciting. You are making one discovery after another. It is all an adventure: the food, your new coworkers, and learning about local customs and etiquette. The most fun of all is that you get to play tourist.
Wouldn’t it be great if this stays like this for the entire assignment? There is that possibility with a little awareness and foresight. For the moment, however, the best plan is to savor the differences and enjoy all the perks that have come with this expatriate assignment such as an increased salary, a company car, maid and possibly much more depending on your location.
Are you the partner of an expatriate and find yourself tagging along on your partner’s assignment? To fill the days you may have tried visiting shopping malls, joining a gym and spending afternoons in cafes. All seem to pass the time however none of these activities are giving you the sense of purpose and fulfillment that you had back home when you were an employed, contributing professional.
No matter whether you are the expatriate or the partner of an expat it will soon be time to consider the next steps so that you can get involved in the local community.
Depending on the country you are living in there are bound to be many opportunities to meet other expatriates. When I was overseas in Kuwait I found one of the best publications available was a directory of services and organizations for expatriates in Kuwait published by the British Ladies Society. While I was not a British lady it was a book full of great tips and suggestions from expats who had done it already. That book became a handy resource for my overseas adventure. The message here is to not overlook organizations and publications even if they seem to not be an initial fit. There are also many websites which can be very useful for your integration period such as: www.justlanded.com and www.internations.org. These offer opportunities to connect with other expatriates through activities and local events.
Your home country’s embassy can also be a great place to check the social calendar. I found that they had some of the best social functions and trips which showed me much more of the country than I would have seen on my own. Many of these activities included special private-access tours and excursions. My only regret is that I found out about these well into my expatriate assignment.
Keeping these tips in mind continue to play tourist and enjoy the fun of seeing as many of the sights as you can. While on my assignment, I used to keep a list of the tourist attractions so that I would always have something new to visit. It kept things interesting. Soon the honeymoon phase will come to an end and you will be much better prepared for the remainder of your assignment. You will be able to easily slide into a life filled with social events and activities while making many new friendships.
Scott Masciarelli, PCC, BCC is a leadership coach and trainer and multilingual avid world traveler. He partners with executives and expatriates to support both their personal and professional leadership growth. Scott’s clients achieve success on their terms.