Category Archives: expat

Is Expatriation an Addiction?


The last few decades has seen more and more people taking up a corporate expatriate posting, with all of the benefits and challenges an expatriation can bring.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.communicaid.com

After 25 years of expatriation, experiencing very different cultures such as Japan, United States or Russia,  I think I fit very well with the definition of an enthusiastic expatriate in this interesting article published by Communicaid : I feel comfortable almost anywhere.

I consider myself a successful “serial” expatriate and I think the following characteristics are very important :

1-Curiosity with a thirst for experiencing “otherness”

2 Humility with willingness to learn different ways of thinking

3-A strong family with high resilience and an adventurous spirit

4- Deep knowledge about who you are,  your strengths, weaknesses

5-Creativity and flexible attitude toward new challenges

6- Not afraid to step out of your comfort zone

7-Future oriented mindset

If expatriation is an addiction then by definition it means you can’t stop moving even if it would be reasonable to settle down. Sometimes this is called the  “Three Year Syndrome”: some expats, get bored, after 3 years, especially if they have no other job than being an expat partner and did not blend with the local culture by establishing a network of local friends.

There is another reason why some expats move so often: with the globalization and the development of virtual teams, with some exceptions, there is no need to have long term expats once the knowledge transfer has been done. There is also more and more people who work abroad  who are not sent by big multinational companies but hired locally. The problem is then to find ways to keep a job until you can retire.  Most of the time those people are forced to move to other countries where they can transfer their unique skills.

What type of expat are you ?

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Why employers value intercultural skills


New research shows that employers around the world value staff who understand the role of culture at work. Source: www.britishcouncil.org

What do employers understand by ‘intercultural skills ?

  1.  Ability to understand different cultural contexts and viewpoints.
  2.  Respect for others’ and ‘adapting to different cultural settings
  3.  Accepting cultural differences
  4.  Speaking foreign languages
  5.  Open to new ideas and ways of thinking

 How do employers evaluate job candidates for intercultural skills?

  1. Strong communication throughout the interview and selection process
  2. The ability to speak foreign languages
  3. Demonstration of cultural sensitivity in the interview
  4. Experience studying overseas
  5. Experience working overseas

 What Is Your Company Doing To Develop Intercultural Skills ? 

See on Scoop.itInternational Career

Where are you really from ? An Expat Perspective On Racism


Womanblackman

I found the question in this article very interesting:   Is It Racist to Ask People Where They’re From?
As an expat, I am asked all the time where are you really from ?  and I usually have different answers for different audiences. However to many expats, they don’t feel comfortable with this question especially if they have been living in a foreign country for quite a long time and interpret the question as obviously you are not from there, you are different.
After 25 years of expatriation, I still have some mixed feelings about this question but sometimes it is good to feel different and not from “here”.  Being a French in France is actually harder for me than living abroad, I don’t know anything about popular TV shows or the secret lives of French politicians and I have often a very different view on sensitive questions as I am living on the “other side”.
When I lived in Japan in the 90s I obviously did not look Japanese and I have been asked frequently where I was from, but at that time, being French and saying I was from Paris, were magic words and I was very well treated both at work and with perfect strangers in the streets. I was kind of “exotic” there. However Caucasians were better treated than non-Japanese Asians, especially Chinese, Koreans or Filipinos.
In the US, when I lived in New York City and 8 months pregnant, strangers were giving me a “god bless you” very often, then we had the 9/11 dramatic events and my son was born 12 days later. However I got unpleasant remarks when I said I was French because at that time the French president and the government refused to send troops to Baghdad as if I had anything to do with this decision.
Altogether I had a very positive experience in NYC. I also lived in Atlanta and we were very well-integrated partly because of my son being at the Atlanta International School but generally speaking, Atlanta is a very international city. However I was shocked to see that nothing really changed since Martin Luther King Jr, I saw a lot of segregation between African-Americans and White Americans. Each community including Latin American people had their own neighborhood with very strict boundaries. I then realized that America was far from being a melting pot !
Then we spent one year in New Jersey and it was painful to have in the neighborhood listing “the French” instead of our family name.
Now we live in Russia, I don’t have any specific problems with racism, the “where are you from? ” is still there since my Russian is pretty basic but unlike the stereotypes, I find Russians very courteous with men giving their seats to women in the Metro for example. But here again even for wealthy expatriates,  it is better to be a Caucasian than having a dark skin color.

How do you feel about being asked : where are you really from ?

Related Article:  Encountering racism abroad — or why I sometimes wish I was white

Expat Life: Culture Shock May Be Inevitable But Pain Is Optional


cultureshock

At one point or another new expats will get a “lecture” about “Culture Shock” as it is explained in this video:

Not every expats experience that sequence of emotional reactions and saying this is “normal” is not removing the pain or discomfort. Often people who do not experience this “one size fits all” approach may feel “abnormal” or less competent than typical expats and sometimes think they are a failure not able to cope with their struggles while living abroad.

It is important to acknowledge first the feelings without judgement and then look at individual best coping strategies. You can’t change things you have no control about but you can change the way you think and from a new perspective make necessary changes to get the most of your expatriation.

Sometimes friends are not enough and it is important to allow yourself to find professional help.

If you need someone to deeply listen to you and help you solve issues you have as an expatriate, Please Send Me Your Message  for a complimentary coaching session

Related articles: 

Intercultural Communication at Work


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In this globalised world, communicating in intercultural contexts is not as easy as it may seem…

Anne Egros‘s insight:

When you don’t understand someone’s behavior in intercultural context, ask questions, don’t guess through your own perception.

Be aware of your own cultural bias is a good start then listen to other people and notice similarities or differences on how messages are perceived and understood by making sure there is no misinterpretation either in words, voice tone or body language.

Good demonstration at the end of this article using Anglo-Dutch Translation Guide.

See on www.spaces.nl

 

The “How Are You?” Culture Clash: Americans v.s. Russians


How Are You ?

The answer Americans give, of course is, “Fine.”

But when Russians hear this they think one of two things: (1) you’ve been granted a heavenly reprieve from the wearisome grind that all but defines the human condition and as a result are experiencing a rare and sublime moment of fineness or (2) you are lying”.

True for French people too, they don’t always understand that “how are you?” is not a question, just another way to say “hi” in the United States

Read more on : The ‘How Are You?’ Culture ClashBy ALINA SIMONEJAN. 19, 2014

 

Bilingualism and biculturalism are related, but they are not the same thing.


See on Scoop.itGlobal Leaders

Anne Egros‘s insight:

A very much-needed explanation on the distinction of bilingualism and biculturalism.

For example, too often managers are chosen for their abilities to speak the local language but someone can have a better cultural sensitivity and be  more successful without speaking the local language.

Here more about empirical evidences that languages can shape behaviours but cannot make you multicultural :

Related articles:

See on bilingualkidsrock.com

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