Time For A New Beginning
A new international assignment can be filled with a wondrous sense of fresh beginnings, from the influx of other eager new arrivals, to the slew of welcome back fairs and events. For those who’ve been in a place for a while, it’s easy to ignore this impetus to inject some ‘new’ into life. After all, you’ve established yourself and surely got the hang of everything?
It can take the all too frequent departures of dear friends to encourage re-evaluation and an acknowledgement that new energy must be summoned to keep making good on the wonderful possibilities of expat life. Re-reading a list I made several years ago, where I airily offered newbies advice from the perspective of an ‘old hand’ at this game, made me cringe a little, but also remember that expat living can be challenging, no matter how long you’ve been here. So for the record, here’s that list -
1. Take responsibility. You can’t control everything and there will be things you actively dislike about your new life. Be proactive and get outside of your apartment and meet people every day, no exceptions.
2. Join groups and try to take an active role. There are some fantastic organizations and charities looking for volunteers.
3. Stay positive and motivated. Tomorrow is another day, so try not to be daunted by a bad experience.
4. Exercise. Living an expat life can be very hard on your body. It is easy to eat and drink too much, and exist on too little sleep. Keeping physically fit will help to balance things and lift your spirits. It’s also a great way to meet people. Get outside, join a group. Don’t be afraid to sweat, everybody does.
5. Network and find your tribe. Not everything you join will work out, so keep looking for something that resonates and a place where you can be yourself.
6. Travel and explore. Be culturally aware and learn about your new environment.
7. Start a new hobby, rediscover your passions and revisit your forgotten dreams. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. Remember, this is a brilliant opportunity to reinvent yourself. Always wanted to write? Now you have time to spend a couple of hours a day honing your skills.
8. Keep your professional skills up to date. If you’re not in the workforce, keep an eye on what is happening in your industry and have an active LinkedIn page. Leverage any volunteering experience and learn or enhance your digital skills.
9. Keep in touch with friends and family but don’t expect everybody back home to be wildly enthusiastic about your exotic location. The onus is on you to make the effort to reach out regularly.
10. Write a blog to keep a record of what you have done and include a journal of all you have achieved. The darkest day is brightened by the purchase of a new notebook.
In a nutshell, get up, get out, meet people, sweat, and then write about it. It takes guts to strike out and create a life in a new place thousands of miles from home, and when the going gets tough, as it inevitably will, the tough buy stationery.