Helping Expats Relocate
If you are heading into the eleventh month of living in your new relocation, it is time to shift gears. It's time to have some frank conversations with the Support Team which helped you transition from one country to another. It's time to let them know that you are heading in to the home stretch of your Relocation Mentoring Year, and you are about to say good-bye to them.
Take time to thank them and give feedback on how they have helped you in your move. You aren't exactly cutting them off, but let them know that in Year Two of your overseas assignment, you intend to reduce your calls/Skypes/Zooms to once every three months. You are gaining a sense of flying (mostly) without them. Sure, you can be Facebook friends and send WhatsApp photos, but if they are friends they need to know that your focus is now right where you are and not on "home" (or last country).
In Month Eleven you start to settle down in your new country. You will realise that when you thought you were settling down in month three that you had no idea! Your Relocation Mentor will have assisted you with coming out of Vacation Mode to "this is living," and transition would have begun to take root.
If you have a Relocation Mentor, you will now schedule ending your monthly meetings with her/him and spend time checking that you have just the right Cultural Translator. Ask your Cultural Translator if they would agree to meet you on a regular basis in the year ahead.You are swapping mentors! In some cultures this may take some time to organise, so get started with arrangements now.
I remember my mother saying that her and dad's first year in South Korea was all about getting to know the work assignment, and what was required of them as Professors in a seminary in Taejon.They made some friends and learned the rudiments of the language. They built up their support team, including an excellent language translator that also knew the perfect plumber and where to shop. In their second year, they were truly prepared to get down to work, as well as travel to great parts of the country that tourists do not often get to visit. It was only in the third year that it seemed she and dad were able to do what they came to do with their teaching. "It was almost time to go home before we felt we made a difference and added value to the Seminary," she recalled.
I felt the same in the Peace Corps, which was a two year assignment to Jamaica. It was only by extending to a third year (hired as a local school teacher) that I lived and breathed the life on that beautiful island. It was only in my third year that I felt I made good on all that had been invested in me for working overseas.
Often we want to hit the ground running in our overseas assignments, but oh is it worth it when we have a good foundation year in a new land. Not everyone gets a choice, but if you do; think about at least a three year assignment in your new country.
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