Monday, February 22, 2010

Recovering from Setbacks

Whenever you are trying to accomplish something that you've never done before, you will have setbacks. Count on it. However, its what you take from those setbacks that's important as well as how you react. When first embarking on the goal of living abroad, there will be times when things aren't going as you had imagined. What you had thought would be romantic is now far from that. But, after all, that's life...when reality sets in, it's time to embrace the situation. Its time to pay close attention to what the reality is of the country and culture you have chosen and decide if its for you or not.

I would suggest allowing between 3 to 6 months in a given country to decide if it's right for you. In fact, six months is probably best. Typically, in the first six months, there will be a lot of ups and downs as well as it takes about that much time just to find suitable housing, make friends and develop your own rhythm. Not to mention getting used to the new lifestyle, language and culture before one can truly begin to enjoy their new location.

While, this is not the case for everyone, this is just a general rule and often new expatriates are unaware of this "start-up" time so they become discouraged too quickly and return home. Conversely, if you find yourself unhappy and you've been in the same country for up to a year or more, its time to leave. Often I meet unhappy expatriates who have lived in the same country for years. What has happened is, they have stayed too long but things have gotten too complicated. Maybe, they've fallen for someone and just can't leave that relationship or they finally have a job with security or maybe they've been away from home for so long that they feel they would never be able to re-intergrate into their home-country again. For whatever reason, its important to avoid these pitfalls by not staying too long or leaving too early. G.G.

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