Expat Communities and the Ups and Downs of Expat Life
There are many reasons for choosing expat life: the chance of a new beginning, a life in the sun, and amazing career perspectives. The experiences expats have abroad are as varied as their reasons for moving in the first place. In many cases, it is their social network abroad that determines whether this experience is a positive or a negative one. This is why expat communities are increasingly gaining popularity. In the solitude of a new life abroad, these communities can actually provide a lot of support.
The Upside of Living an Expat Life
There is a lot that you can get out of your expat experience: a serious push to your career, an improvement of your language skills, an open mind, and a whole new life. It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy another climate, learn more about a foreign culture, and (in some cases) even benefit from a lower cost of living. It is true that many expats can finally enjoy a living standard with a little bit more luxury, once they’ve made the move.
Others enjoy a better work-life balance and find more time for their families. Depending on where you decide on settling down, you might benefit from better childcare opportunities or a more relaxed work life.
The Downside of Expat Life
But being culturally aware and enjoying a life in the sun cannot make up for the downside of expat life. Children and travelling spouses often suffer from culture shock and the accompanying symptoms. Feeling uprooted and lost in an environment that is entirely foreign can put a lot of pressure on people. At the same time, the language barrier often makes it harder to make friends with the locals and learn something about the local culture.
Usually, when people are going through rough times, they have a support system of friends and family members who help them cope. For newly-arrived expats, however, this safety net is missing. This is where expat communities come in.
Expat Communities as a Safety Net
When expat life gets challenging, a local expat community can provide you with the help and support you need. They are the place to find useful information on South Africa, for instance. However, these communities are more than just a place to turn to for information or tips on where to party. Expats in your host town can provide a safety net for you upon arrival which makes the culture shock, and the many inconveniences and the homesickness that comes with it, bearable.
On top of things, you get the opportunity to network, which will help you with your career, and make new friends, which will let you increase your social circle. Before you know it, you will feel right at home in your new home abroad.
This post was written by InterNations, the largest expatriate network worldwide. It was created to help members meet other high-profile expatriates from around the world living in their city and connect with them, both online and in real life through events and activities. InterNations also offers its members the know-how and support to make moving abroad more manageable. The network was founded in 2007 and now has over 1 million members in more than 390 Local Communities around the world.