It sounds glamorous, living abroad in exotic countries, traveling regularly, meeting new friends, and exploring a new culture. However the reality can be vastly different. The life of an expatriate (expat) means packing up all your worldly belongings, moving to a house that you may or may not have seen, in a country that you may or may not have visited before. You leave behind everything you know and are familiar with, including family, friends, and a support network. While everyone at home continues with their “normal” life, you are starting a new life, in a whole new, often unfamiliar world.
If you have children you need to find appropriate schooling, which isn’t always an easy task as International Schools quite often have long waiting lists. Then there is the arduous task of sourcing a new doctor, new dentist, hairdresser and finding the local supermarket. There are so many little luxuries in your day today life that you take for granted; yet when you become an expat, they can be huge challenges. As a general rule, many expatriates seem to underestimate the challenges of moving abroad. Often the spouse has left behind a career of their own to follow their partner. While their partner starts an exciting new job in a new office surrounded by like-minded people, the expat spouse can struggle to find their identity. The partner can be consumed with trying to settle in him or herself and make a positive impact in a foreign environment, which leaves little time to provide support for the spouse at home. It is quite common for partners to travel regularly with their job, which means the expat spouse is left alone to fend for him or herself. The research in this paper also bought to light the toll that the expat lifestyle can have on relationships and families as each person struggles to deal with the new experience in their own way.Download Article