COMING BACK FROM EXPATRIATION: ARTICLE FROM EXPAT ACCOMPANYING PARTNER
The following feedback and tips come from an Expat Accompanying Partner who would like to share their experience with readers of the blog. The feedback is an overview of their 3-year period as an Expat Partner, highlighting 3 important stages and subsequent learning experiences which they perceive as beneficial for future career and professional comeback!
“When coming back from expatriation, we have a better vision of what happened during these years and it’s easier to draw conclusions.
Here are a few personal learnings from three years as an Expat Accompanying Partner.
The 1st few weeks of your expatriation are generally dedicated to nestling into your new home, learning about the city’s transportation system to be able to move around, strolling in the supermarket to be able to find the products that fit your culinary habits (this might even take a few months), and if you have kids – looking for school and/or after-school activities to make their transition to a new ‘home’ as smooth as possible. Basic things that took little or no effort before, now require more time and quite often a lot of frustration.
If this is your case - congratulations! You step out of your comfort zone and boost your brain’s activity to the maximum. After feeling awkward and uncomfortable, we can make a big step towards personal change and growth. This increases our adaptability. Adaptability is a skill much sought after by recruiters and company’s HR (according to University of Kent, UK). In the 21st century, where things change very fast, companies need people who can adapt to these changes. One of the ways to learn how to do it (if you are not born with this skill), is to live in another country.
2nd important stage – finding new friends! This is a very “fun” part of expatriation that an Accompanying Partner can enjoy. It starts with taking a coffee in the morning (with a “fellow mom” after putting kids to school) and in participating in numerous clubs’ activities you will join. Can this really be useful for the future? Of course! No doubt the numerous contacts you make, will lead to the growth of your network. Networking has become a very important part of our lives which is not just limited to when we need advice on what not to miss out on, in the new host country. It might also become a key factor in finding a future job or a business partner. So open yourself towards others and always remember that you are not only a parent or a friend but also a professional!
3rd essential part – learning or improving a foreign language. There is a big chance that a host country’s language will not be your native language. To read a food packaging or to find your direction in the city, you will have to ask people for information. The circumstances will no doubt push you to do it, in a language that is different from your native language. In the world of globalization, one of the requirements of companies linked to their business needs, is to speak at least one foreign language. If you master one or more foreign languages, you increase your chances to get the job of your dreams. Even if your company is not internationally oriented, there is always a seminar or a forum where you might encounter the need to use your English/French/Chinese etc.…Therefore, don’t hesitate to sign up for a foreign language class in your community!
As a conclusion, I would like to stress that the years of expatriation go by in a blink of an eye! As an Accompanying Partner, being on a prolonged ‘vacation’ is a gift - do take advantage of every day! However, do make this expatriation period beneficial for your career and future professional come-back!”
Many thanks to this reader for sharing their feedback and advice!
For more information on Adaptability, Languages and other related themes, please consult articles on the blog featured posts or in the archives.
If you are an Expat or Ex Expat Accompanying Partner who would also like to share your experience and advice with others, to valorize the learning skills acquired abroad, please get in touch via the contact sheet on the blog.