To understand others, we must first know ourselves…

It’s definitely okay to focus on yourself when adjusting to another culture. For example, recognising your own values and identifying your individual needs can be very beneficial to you.

Your values

“We all have values and codes of behaviour that are formed by our own cultural backgrounds and it can come as a shock when we meet others who don’t share these values and habits,” says Karlijn de Broeck, who guides expat partners in our community through Global Connection’s cultural coaching programme ‘Cycles of Change’. “So an important step when entering another culture is to recognise your own  values and habits. You can then consider how these will be challenged in a new environment and how you will have to adjust.”

Individual needs

“With Cycles of Change, the coachee will be asked to identify their individual needs. There are so many variables with expatriation. The stage of life you are at; the culture of the location; how your partner and/or kids are feeling, the circumstances of the assignment. Identifying what you  need in that situation is a very important step.”

Different strokes

In other words, through this programme, Global Connection provides individualised coping strategies for each and every expat partner, no matter who they are, or where they are, or what they’re going through. “If you’re an extrovert, your needs will be very different to an introvert. While the former will likely feel an impulse to get out and meet people, the latter would prefer to have time for themselves. For example, a quiet space where they can gather their thoughts throughout the day.”

A family affair

In a previous article we have written about how Cycles of Change can be good for your relationship. Furthermore, Karlijn also encourages partners to discuss the adjustment openly with kids: “It depends on their age, of course, but older kids will have to get used to a major change when relocating. The expat partner can share insights from Cycles of Change with everyone.”

Curiouser and curiouser

Generally speaking, being proactive and curious about the host culture can be a good tool for the whole family. Ask questions or investigate. Research or explore. “Looking for positive ways to engage with, and learn about, the host culture will undoubtedly help all of you through the adjustment process,” says Karlijn.

This article was originally published for the thousands of expat partners that Global Connection supports around the globe. It is reproduced here in its original form.

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