Strategic Tips to Survive and Thrive Abroad
This week I will be hosting my first virtual summit for expats by expats, the Survive and Thrive Abroad Virtual Summit. I’ve created and organized over 350 in-person and online events through my platform The Expat Woman but this is the first one focused entirely on moving and navigating life overseas.
This online event is the culmination of my 18-year journey from being lonely, jobless and confused in a foreign land to leading a happy, successful (if I may say so) and fulfilled life.
I am originally from India and am what you may call an “accidental expat”. In 2002 I was laid off from a job in a career that didn’t interest me. At that point despite being unhappy at this company, I was upset, humiliated and embarrassed that they asked me to leave before I could resign. It’s like being in a bad relationship. You want to be the first one to call it quits.
I didn’t realize at that time but it was the best thing that could have happened to me. I threw caution to the wind and came to New York to study. Within two months I met and married the love of my life ( that is a story in itself) and found myself not only adjusting to being a spouse but also acclimating to an entirely different world. My American husband who had never lived abroad would be the first to admit that he couldn’t relate to what I was going through.
Since I never planned on moving here permanently, I was quite unprepared for this new life as an expat. I hadn’t said goodbye to friends and family, hadn’t closed my accounts, most of the things that were dear to me, were back home. All I had to my name in this new country were two suitcases of clothes.
I fumbled and struggled those first few years, looking for a job, fighting homesickness, trying to fit in. My husband is an amazing and very supportive partner but as many expat spouses and partners especially women would agree, we need a tribe . A network of supportive peers. And for me, that was what I desperately needed. Since I couldn’t find a group like this, I decided to create one and that’s how The Expat Woman was born.
From having zero network, through the events I’ve hosted (in-person and online) over the last 6 years, my community has grown to over 13K.
My mission is to help women like me who move abroad to make valuable connections, find jobs, start businesses, and find the support they need to navigate their personal and professional lives in a new country.
The 35 women speaking at our summit support my mission and will share their experiences, insights and tips on overcoming the challenges and obstacles that expats face so they can lead happy, successful and productive lives.
Here are some of their strategic tips :
“ Moving to a new country is like a marriage. Once the honeymoon phase is over and reality sets in, you have to put in the time, effort and energy to continue to keep the excitement alive and make it work. Accept the negative feelings, practice self-compassion and self care” — Nyna Caputi, Founder and CEO of The Expat Woman
“Have an effective plan and don’t be afraid to shift your strategy as your goals and life plans evolve.” — Faye Tillery, Executive Director @ Someday Started Today Nomad Consulting, Kenya
“Acknowledge your worth. Life abroad is an opportunity, but it can be messy, complicated and challenging. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s great to look ahead with ambition and drive, but never lose sight of all you’ve achieved. Congratulate yourself for your achievements and believe in your worth. If you don’t, no one else will.” — Nina Hobson, Blogger @ The Expater, Chile
“Be open to the experiences the new country has to offer while also staying authentic to who you are.” — Denise Suarez, Parenting coach @ Con Cariño, Spain
“When arriving in a new city the first thing to do is to create your own locators where you will make new acquaintances. For me it’s the church community, the gym and the coffee bar. Easy locators where I always meet new people.” — Diane Hageman-Domingos, CEO Marketing Agency @ BerryMarketing.be, Belgium
“One advice I have for expats is that finding your community, like any relationship, takes work. Actively seek out and find a balance between your two communities: the community of expats like yourself from the old country and new local friends. It is easier than ever to connect with other expats from your country of origin: join their Facebook groups, go to cultural events, meet them and make friends, they will help you get acclimated to your new surroundings. But ALSO — seek out your new community of locals and learn about the local culture — go to events, join organizations, connect with your neighbors, go to social gatherings and learn as much as you can about the new culture.” — Naama Barnea-Goraly, Founder & CEO @ Girltelligence, US
“Keep going. Don’t give up. Take a deep breath and call on your sister network of friends and fellow expats to keep you on course. Remember, iron sharpens iron and so one sharpens another. Also, if you notice a whiff of negativity, MOVE ON.” — Natalie Greaves, Founder & CEO @ World A Girl, Jamaica
- Have a healthy mix of things/habits from your home culture and host country- Find your community (or build your own)” — Estefânia Barsante, Founder and Coach @ EB HR & Coaching
“My piece of advice for expats is to go in with an open mind and heart, and know that they are never alone.” — Angelic Ingram, Mindfulness Coach @ A Mindful Journey to Freedom
“Do everything you can in the beginning to meet fellow expats. A support network is essential to finding your footing fast. The second thing I would say is to give yourself permission to have a bad day and ‘take a day off’… this is hard, particularly in the beginning. When confronted with things that frustrate you, I would suggest you take a step back and ask “Is what is happening wrong, or just not what I expected?” If it is just not what you expected, understand that you are probably being confronted with a cultural change. There are 100s of versions of you, this is your opportunity to uncover a new one, so go out and do things that excite you or make you happy…” — Tanya Arler, Author of UNPACK — a guide to life as an expat spouse and Founder @ A Happy Expat
“My biggest mantra is — It takes time, you just have to be patient. I alway say moving abroad is like a pregnancy, you feel completely out of your body, nothing is what it seems, you’re uncomfortable, scared and excited….it takes nine months to get used to it, 9 months to make a baby and about 9 months to start feeling at home overseas.” — Nicole Webb, Author of China Blonde
“Find what works for you to get out of the lonely isolation funk. Find your people and places to belong by getting out of your comfort zone, meeting new people, trying new activities. Identify where you can get support when you need it — join a great supportive community. Accept and integrate as much as you can — learn the language as quickly as you can. Be patient and go with the flow as it won’t all work the same as you are used to” — Janeen Sonsie, Founder @ MojoCircle
“Learn the local language, connect with the local community, and work on a positive mindset. The country that you’re moving into is not different (everything was there before you moved).The only thing which is different is you so the best that you can do is to learn more about the new city/country you’re moving into and be open minded.” — Dominika Miernik, International Career and Expat Coach @ DM Coaching
“Creating a support system is an important part of adjusting to an expat life. I advise many women to join social groups, sports groups, associations or other special interest groups in order to develop a network of people who get to know them and can support each other as they learn the ins and outs of living in their new country. Not being isolated is key to preventing the onset of problems that can interfere with living your best expat life. Staving off depression, anxiety or other strong feelings, as well as detrimental habits, by incorporating a social support system is paramount to feeling like you belong even when you are far from home.” — Andrea McKenna Brankin, Author of “Bipolar Phoenix” & a Mental Health Advocate @ Andrea / Berryhurst Consulting
“1) Know what you want 2) Network to gain mentorship or connections in your area of field 3) blend in with the culture 4) there is a life outside work and make sure to engage in activities outside 5) You got this! Self believe is the key to success” — Ramona Arora, Creator of Solo Wave and a BI Analyst
“Find a routine and make sure to include exercise, social events, and something that feeds your soul.” — Char Tamason, Founder and Director of Health by Intuition
“1) Explore, explore, explore 2) Say yes to new experiences 3) Meet lots of new people 4) Always be open-minded 5) Be aware of the change curve and how that may affect your journey 6) Ask for help whenever you need or feel lonely 7) Have fun!” — Solene Anglaret, Founder of Be Beyond Borders
“Depending on the length of the tour, learn the language, design a personal mission, create positive rituals and routines, develop friendships early, and work on personal goals (health, creative projects, professional, family, etc). Above all, create a community of friends that support you and your growth.” — Dominique Narciso, CEO of The Narciso Kim Group LLC
“As one of many pieces of advice I would give to expats, as mentioned also in my book, is :‘Don’t compare people and places. Everybody is unique, take time to fully understand the local culture and don’t take it personally!’” — Alexandra Paucescu, Intercultural Communicator
“I advise my clients to first have a clear vision about what kind of life they would like to live where they are going, understand the culture differences and limitations, do the research and create an action plan that they can implement even before leaving to their new destination. I show them how this helps them and their families feel more grounded, safe, secure, and clear about the life they will live aboard as they will be armed with all the information, resources and action plans they need to make a reality.” — Mundey Young, International lifestyle and business coach @ Mundey Young Coaching
Tickets to this summit are free and open to expats and anyone interested in living abroad or learning about expat life. Register here: theexpatwoman.com/expat summit