ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Life on the go: Expatriates

Updated on June 19, 2013

Geo Circles Luggage


Cultural Transitioning

Traveling to other countries whether for business or pleasure can be an exciting prospect, and people have traveled the globe for as long as history has been recorded and beyond. Man’s inherent curiosity to discover what’s beyond his horizon has kept humans traversing the earth for thousands of years; lately the horizon has extended to space though going on an extra-terrestrial trip may not be a likely phenomenon for the masses for many more years to come.

People’s yearning to experience what’s yonder has led to a huge industry, tourism. Today, an aspiring holiday maker needs only to decide on a location, select a package tour and all the logistics are taken care of; thus the stress of planning a trip is eased. Upon arrival at the chosen destination, there are contingents of individuals whose obligation it is to make the experience a stellar one for the traveler(s), and more often than not, holiday makers come away with nothing short of a truly memorable experience. But what happens when the traveler is not just visiting briefly but rather must live and be productive in the host country. Who is there to ensure that the social, emotional and personal needs of expatriates are adequately met?

Living Abroad

Relocating abroad is a tough decision and definitely not recommended for the faint hearted. Successful expatriation starts with meticulous planning and education even before the bags are packed, and should not end when the plane touches down (assuming one arrives by air). For example, heading out to a region where the lingo is different requires learning sufficient functional words and phrases in the native language in order to be better able to meet one’s basic communication needs upon arrival, while traveling to volatile political climates might require training on staying safe in the host country. A successful expatriate experience is one that is pleasant, productive and personally fulfilling but unfortunately, that is not always the case for a fair percentage of expatriates despite being immersed in cultural transitioning workshops prior to physically leaving to embark on foreign assignments.


It is difficult to put an accurate figure on expatriate failure due to the complexity, if not the impossibility of collecting accurate data. Still, it is estimated that 1 in 4 expatriate assignments end in premature return, costing corporations tons of revenue as replacements must be sent. Culture shock, complex dynamics of the new environment, and difficulty adapting to the new society’s norms and expectations are common reasons for failure. The statistics on premature return indicates that perhaps cultural transitioning training should continue in the host country and be available on a needs basis throughout the duration of an assignment. This provision might be a more cost effective way for companies to retain employees in overseas posts for the long haul.

Problems in the Host Country

The majority of problems encountered by people on tour of duty abroad arise from cultural misinterpretations of situations they encounter or misunderstanding cultural cues. Factually, human beings share more similarities than differences, however, one’s thought processes and actions are culturally rooted and this is where problems can arise. Living effectively amidst people of an alien culture may call for a new lens for perceiving the new terrain or making personal adjustments.

Sometimes, the problems have little to do with the environment per se as expats can experience emotional upheavals such as anxiety, homesickness, loneliness or a sense of detachment from loved ones. Couples might encounter marital strife especially when the spouse feels out of place, or settling the kids becomes a challenge and Grandma is no longer round the corner to provide assistance and support. Self-doubt, uncertainty, lack of confidence, and social issues such as isolation are all realities of expatriation and require intervention.

Supports in the Host Country

The diversity of issues that plaque expatriates has led to a booming industry known as expat coaching. Expatriate coaches make it their business to ensure clients maximize their productivity in the host country. Executives can be coached on tactical skills for managing the local workforce; a business’ current performance can be assessed and make recommendations for developing strategic plans that will potentially help it grow and maximize profit; key employees can be supported during transition to different roles within the same organization or when moving to completely new establishments; coaching support and learning opportunities can be provided for employees to ensure positive interactions within the organization, and individuals can be helped to flourish and realize peak performance if taken under the wing of an expat coach who’ll work with them to enhance their skill in a particular field or facet of the individual’s life.

As role models, expat coaches personally exhibit a high level of self-knowledge and pride themselves on their own extraordinary high self-imposed standards. They are goal-oriented folks who focus on the present in order to influence the future. Thus these coaches can help individuals or families identify personal social or behavioral issues hindering their ability to progress and then work with them to define realistically attainable goals that will ultimately help them overcome their challenges. This collaboration requires a trust based partnership within which open conversations can take place and though the coach plays the role of expert, he does not impose or dictate to the client. Instead, suggestions and plans for reaching a target goal are mutually agreed upon and the coach acts as a facilitator by providing guidance, motivation, and support. The coach remains a good listener and provides feedback without being judgmental. When social behavior training is involved, the coach provides a safe environment for the expat to ‘test’ the newly acquired behavior to ensure it is a good ‘fit’ before it is exhibited in public. Expats coaches monitor the progress of their clients through scheduled follow up appointments and stay by them until the goal is attained.

In a nutshell, expat coaches are intuitive, visionary, committed and passionate about human development and believe that given the right tools and supports people have the potential to succeed. Without the highly dedicated services of these guardian angels, the enthusiasm of living, working, and thriving abroad can gradually be transformed into a nightmare from which one might not necessarily wake up long after the proverbial towel has been thrown in.




    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)