The Expat Social Network
Most expats would agree that having a solid social network is crucial to succeed abroad. This is particularly true for expat spouses that, more often than not, are left somewhat alone to figure out how to operate and interact in a foreign environment, where rules and codes are different from the ones at their country of origin.
Creating and nurturing a social network during an expatriation assignment is not an easy task. It requires a positive frame of mind and a constant “trial and error” attitude that could take time to bear fruits. Nevertheless, the effort is worth it, as expats report feeling supported, understood and accompanied when they count with a group of people to share experiences, to ask for help and guidance, and to hang out.
In general, expats naturally get together among themselves; at the end, they are in the same situation and share many things in common. Although there is nothing wrong with that, expats that are able to expand their social network to include also local people are in a better position to integrate and succeed. Indeed, by having local friends or even acquittances, expats are more exposed to the local culture and are able to better understand the national idiosyncrasy and to function in a more effective manner.
In the almost last year and a half, social interactions have been limited due to the COVID pandemic; something that has been difficult for all individuals around the world, expats or not. In fact, nurturing “the social network” has been challenging, but expats have, like everyone else, been able to remain socially active using online tools and participating in safe activities where hygiene and social distance measures are respected. A return to some sort of normality will indeed help refresh the much-valued social network.