The First Three Months Abroad

It has been three months since you have landed in your new host country. Time has likely passed very fast. This is the initial “honeymoon” period of your overseas move where everything is both new and exciting and you are making one discovery after another. It is all an adventure: the food, your new coworkers, learning about local customs and etiquette and 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 with your partner’s assignment while not having your own purpose? You may have tried going to the mall, shopping and even joined a gym. 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 and 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 others who are in a similar situation. 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 which was 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 light and 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.

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About the Author

Scott Masciarelli

Scott Masciarelli is a certified professional coach and accomplished leader with extensive professional experience in the U.S., Latin America and Middle East. He has spent several years living overseas as an expatriate and brings a global perspective to his work. He is passionate about working with expatriates, leaders and busy professionals who are asking themselves "what next?" He says, "I love this question because it allows an exploration of possibilities to unfold. It's both exciting and transformational." Scott holds a BCC (Board Certified Coach) certification and an ACC (Associate Certified Coach) and GCC (Group Certified Coach) with the International Coach Federation. He is a graduate of International Coach Academy's Certified Professional Coach Program and member of the training faculty for ICA where he facilitates coaching classes for a global student body. His university education is in the field of Psychology and he has a keen interest in the areas of self-improvement, finance and business. This blend of the human side, business, leadership with a global perspective creates a highly productive coaching environment for expatriates. He is an avid world traveler who has visited and worked in over 65 countries. Travel inspired him to study Spanish, Italian and Arabic as part of his commitment to being a perpetual learner. His business strengths are in start-ups, transitions and in building engaged teams within a productive environment based on respect and idea sharing. Scott leads from the heart and he encourages and shows others to do the same both at work and in their personal lives. It is through this integration of our professional and personal goals that we can feel truly alive.

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