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SERIES: Following Spouses On International Assignments Article 5 of 5

Missed the previous articles? Click on the numbers now!  1234.

With the help of a good glass of wine, more and more people open up. We are all different, we are all the same. Looking to balance everyday our need of feeling we belong…

We finally come to our 10th profile in the expat spouse and to draw some conclusion of what differentiate the spouses who feel at ease and those who, unfortunately, are suffering and wish they never accepted to trade their old lives for a new one.

THE GLOBAL NOMADS

The global nomads thrive on change. These are expatriates who have become, in effect, global nomads who do not associate themselves with any specific culture and regard themselves as world citizens. Often in multicultural marriages, they speak several languages and they feel at home where ever they may be. Self reliant, their identity and sense of self is not related to any country in particular, they belong everywhere and nowhere: home is where ever they happen to be and their country of origin can be detected in their pantry where they keep a treasured supply of food from their homeland. They often struggle with the question “Where are you from?” They are men and women who thrive on change, and made change their a way of life. They actively seek the opportunity to keep moving across the globe.

As you read through the profiles, you may have identified yourself in some traits or remembered someone you met. Where you place in this continuum and how you move from being at risk to being totally integrated depends on several factors and on your ability and desire to embrace change. Surfing the Wave of Change will be, in fact, the focus of the next series of articles. We will explore how expat spouses can increase their flexibility and accelerate their ability to adapt and be comfortable with their new environment. Please share your story with us in the comments below.

In the years I have worked with expats and their families I have noticed that there are 5 key attributes that are more likely to determine success or demise when facing a major transition.

Expat spouses who fail to adapt and suffer throughout their stay tend to:

  1. Be fearful, reluctant and dislike novelties, they are comfortable with what they know
  2. Continuously compare their culture to those of others, they speak in term of us and them focusing on the divide
  3. Identify themselves with one particular ethnicity, religion or culture and they are desperate to hang to their roots
  4. Be judgmental rather then curious of others customs and traditions
  5. Expect others around them to think and act like they do

Expat spouses who ultimately thrive and are enriched by the experience tend to:

  1. Be curious, be open, welcome change and be comfortable with uncertainty
  2. Spend little time comparing,  but strive from the outset to seek commonalities rather than differences
  3. Identify themselves with no one particular ethnicity, religion or culture
  4. Show a childlike curiousity for everyone and everything they come in contact with from people to food to rituals
  5. Expect others to think and act like differently

Ultimately it is a matter of attitude and desire to let go of what is familiar and embrace the possibility that there are other ways of being that will pave your way to a successful and memorable expatriate experience.

Read the the previous articles in this series by clicking on its number 1, 2, 3, 4.

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