It's springtime. Yes! Winter is over, time to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the fresh air outside. Time to enjoy the day with an empty head and explore the environment that you are in. But this is also the time of the year when the same question is popping up over and over again:
"Are you going to move away this summer or not?".
This keeps us expats very busy. And I mean VERY busy.
"Who is leaving? Where are they moving to? What.....are they leaving as well? Who is organizing the farewell party? What about going away presents? Can we still hang out with them before they leave?
And most importantly....are we going or not? What did the Company tell you? Do I need to Google schools, housing, moving companies, permits...(if not I will do it anyways)? We only have a couple more months to make all the arrangements!"
These uncertain times are exciting and thrilling: " YES, we might move to the other side of the world!". Or you don't like them at all: "Now that we've finally managed to settle down we have to leave again?". Whether you'd like to move on or not, these times are most often accompanied by stress ("Aaargghh"), sometimes envious feelings ("How come they got exactly what we've wanted?") and in any case mind breaking thoughts ("Do I need to cancel our rental contract and sports clubs already or can I wait another month?"). If handling these turbulent times yourself aren't occupying enough, there's also the question on when and what to tell the children.
How to keep sane in these turbulent times?
For one try to keep your focus on where you live now. Don't spend to much time thinking about "what if", but try and enjoy the country you live in and the friendships you've made. You'll regret it if you don't. Plan like you are staying, so keep your sport and social clubs going. Don't cancel things until you know for sure. Don't hold back meeting old and new friends.
Be honest with yourself, do you want to move because you are restless or unhappy (be aware that you will take this with you to another place) or is it because of a career choice?
Try and keep the stress limited to a certain time a day. For instance say to yourself "I will worry about this tonight (after the children are in bed)." or "I can search the Internet for possible new houses for an hour, then I will spend quality time with my children or friends.".
Respect everyones opinion about a possible transition. While you may feel like leaving today, understand that your spouse or your child may not want to leave his friends at all. Try not to convince the other family members but simple let everyone have their own opinions and emotions about it (whether it's anger, sadness or joy).
Don't tell to many people you might move away, only share with a couple of good friends. People tend to also protect themselves for hard goodbyes and might distance themselves from you when actually you need them most.
If you find there's too much chaos in our head, try and make a plan for the coming months. Be ready to change the plan or make a final plan when the decision is there. Then you will have enough time thinking on how to say farewell, but that's another blog to come.
Well, these are only a few things to bear in mind. I always get new energy thinking about a few lines in a Garth Brooks song which is actually about love, but appears to fit to expat life as well:
"Life is not tried, it is merely survived if you're standing outside the fire"
So, get in there, live your life. Accept there will be uncertainties. That's part of the expat life that you are living and remember it gives you so much joy as well!
Found this article in a Swiss newspaper ("Blick am Abend"). "Is Switzerland a hell for Expats?". I was also wondering why Switzerland is always ranking high on the lists of best places to live as an expat, but at the same time I hear so many expats having trouble making friends and feeling at home, even though it is a beautiful and safe country. But that's not always enough. What do you think?
Just finished reading this book: Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum. It is hilarious, sexy, emotional and devastating all in one. A must read if you are an expat living in Zürich/Switzerland!! The Swiss newspaper "Blick am Abend" called it "50 shades of grey" combined with "desperate housewives"!