When an expat feels that racial or prejudicial attitudes are impacting their adjustment to a new culture / society, possibly even their ability to find work, how can they take steps to move forward positively?
Why am I here?
Whether it’s their race, religion, nationality or language they speak, when a newcomer experiences discrimination, they will understandably question their presence in this society. They might feel like packing up and going home. A very understandable reaction but perhaps not actually an option, or at least a preference. But life can prove challenging, if they cannot overcome a negative experience.
Not reflective of society
“It’s an unfortunate reality that discrimination occurs. Someone might be unlucky and meet an individual who has judged them on their nationality or the colour of their skin. That can be traumatic or lead to a lot of anxiety and doubt. In that case, I would urge any expat partner to consider that it is not reflective of society,” says coach Elena Marsh. “When entering a new culture, we must always learn to challenge generalisations.”
Focus on yourself
“What I would suggest to an expat partner who has experienced prejudice is to focus on themself. ‘Who are you? What are your values? How do you identify yourself?’ By focusing on themself as an individual, we can begin to restore their confidence in the integration process,” says Elena. “That can be easy to say but hard to do. However, it’s a good starting point.”
Seek like-minded people
“In an unfamiliar environment, finding your tribe is always important. If someone feels like they are marginalised in any sense, I’d advise them to pursue their interests. If they do, they will meet like-minded people. You can also use social networks like Meetup.com,” says Elena. “If they don’t speak the language very well, I’d also recommend that they make learning it a priority. Increased proficiency will also give them more confidence about integration.”
Don’t retreat, be proactive
If an expat partner believes their race / nationality has previously impacted their job search, the instinct might be to retreat. But Elena would advise doing the opposite: “Networking is advisable for anyone seeking work. I would say be proactive. Seek out events. Use platforms such as LinkedIn. Make sure you tick all the boxes with your resume, cover letter and be the best candidate. Newcomers to any society can often hold themselves back. But no matter what the circumstances, you have to put yourself out there to get a job.”