The Positive Side of Being an Expat Spouse
Much has been said and written about the struggles that a typical expat spouse faces during the expatriation assignment.
Indeed, they most likely take the hardest part of the process, having to quit their job or to interrupt their professional advancement as well as leave friends and family at home in order to follow their partners. As a result, many expat spouses find themselves confused in a new and unfamiliar environment; they may feel unmotivated, isolated, stressed, disconnected, and homesick.
The challenge is even bigger when expat spouses cannot work at their new destination due to visa, language or legal constraints, or because “it makes no sense” for financial, safety or logistical reasons.
Nevertheless, as with any challenge, there are opportunities that can be exploited with the right guidance and positive mindset. Easier said than done; but very possible.
Indeed, expat spouses can use the expatriation time for:
Professional development and studies: Many accompanying spouses invest their expat time in continuing their education either by registering in master or specialization programs or online courses. This is also a great way to keep their CV alive for easier reinsertion into the job market later on.
Reinvention: The time abroad could also be an opportunity for expat spouses to execute new projects or to materialize some dreams such as having their own business or starting a new career.
Hobbies: New or old hobbies, from reading to practicing sports, can be enjoyed during expatriation and they can also be a great way to meet people with similar interests.
Traveling: Expatriation is a great “excuse” to explore countries or regions that were inaccessible or far from home. Expat spouses can make the most out of the travel opportunities that result from relocating abroad.
Cultural education: Expat spouses are very much in touch with the reality and daily life in their new destination. They have the opportunity to meet local people, to learn and interact in the local language and be in direct contact with the host culture. This by itself is an immense gain that makes the whole expatriation experience, hurdles included, worthwhile.
The list of benefits could go on and on…but what is really important is that expat spouses can thrive during their expatriation time; navigating the inherent difficulties of the journey but at the same time, making the most out of the opportunities.