Although every expatriate who returns to their “home culture” after living abroad will experience some type of “reverse culture shock,” each person has a unique experience.
We watched our son during the next few months as he wrestled with feelings of anger, frustration, and disorientation. He became very critical and judgmental of our home culture, comparing everything to North Africa and Europe.
He began to withdraw and escape—only keeping in contact with his friends abroad—in the place he called “home.” When invited out by new friends, our son declined. He strongly resisted adapting to our home culture and became quite isolated and lonely.
This place certainly didn’t feel like "home" to him.
Imagine it's five years from now—2024.
What's happening with See Beyond? Dream with us . . .
In many ways, we are still the same. We’re still made up of staff who do or have lived in the region. We speak the language; we’ve lived the life. You don’t have to explain the details of living where you do, because we’ve also lived it.
We are still trained, certified, or licensed in areas we’ll help you with and we still offer lots of free services, like trauma debriefing, and regular online and onsite seminars.
Our ‘raison d’etre’ is still the same. We love working in predominantly Muslim countries, helping expatriates do better and stay longer. Why? Because we love the things most expats do while they live in these lands—helping love and develop the people of these countries, building bridges of peace between cultures and mindsets, making a difference in people's lives.
We all have stories to tell! Sometimes, we have fun adventures that take place in our daily life. Other times, we have tough stories that unfold over the course of our work and school days—even over our years.
Some stories are easier to tell than others. Some people tell their stories naturally, and others need to be encouraged to share.
Some need to be invited to share.
One of our favorite family dinner questions leads to great table conversations with our children. We begin with two simple questions, “What was the best part of your day? What was the hardest part of your day?” Then, we move around the table, each telling the tales of our day. As a result of these two simple questions, we have heard some really funny stories . . . and some really gut-wrenching ones.
What can we do to invite someone to share their story?Read More
International living is replete with losses. Not only do we feel the loss of friends, family, belongings, and situations back home, but also the loss of competency, familiarity, and functionality in our new location. On top of all that, those we find it easiest to relate to are very transient and we are always saying goodbye.
So what’s the problem? Ungrieved losses have a way of festering below the surface. The can make us flat, or sometimes come out in irritation, anger and frustration. At an even more basic level, we are often unaware that our losses merit any attention at all.
In this article, we'll share the 9 types of losses, so you can identify them in your own life and begin to heal.
But first we start with my own story....
My mom died. Three months later, my stepfather died. He died in a fire that destroyed my childhood home.
verywhere I look, people are together—together with their families, together with their friends, together with their neighbors. Mothers and daughters shop together at the market. Parents with their children play together on the beach. Friends hang out together in cafés, and neighbors sit together in front of their door talking, laughing, and sipping mint tea.
I sit alone.
My family lives on the other side of the world. I have some expat friends who work with me, but they are busy with their own families and their own lives. I keep trying to build relationships with my national friends, but it’s so hard to build trust and deep connection in a foreign language.
I feel alone.
For those of us who feel isolated and alone, how can we find friends to connect with—especially when living in a foreign land with multiple layers of language and cultural barriers?
An angry gray sky greeted me. Standing at the top of the flight of stairs which opened to the roof, the breeze mussed my hair and reminded me I was near the ocean. It also whispered that rain was coming.
It was a risk to hang my heaping basket of wet laundry, but I had no choice. I grabbed the heavy towels. Clip. Clip. Shirts attached next, then socks. Clip. Clip. In the midst of the up-and-down, picking-and-clipping repetition, I had lots of time to think.
I was sad. I'd been sad for a while. I rarely smiled or laughed. All of my actions felt laborious.
Continue reading . . .Read More
I vividly remember days (yes, multiple) not wanting to get out of bed. Seeing no way I could ever learn the language, if I could ever make a difference in others’ lives. I could no longer look past the trash on my street, everything became gloomy. I was ready to go home. I had little hope.
Hope. We all know the term and can tell you if we have it or if we don’t. But what is it?! Is it something that just happens to us, or is it something we have some control over?
Life is full of different seasons. Some things may change—our age, our geographic location, our marital status, etc. However, loneliness can affect us in all of these different life stages. We all need community and connection no matter what season we find ourselves in today.Read More
Where are you headed?
What helps you get up in the morning?
What will you say “yes” to today?
Why do you do what you do?
These questions reflect your vision. Do you have one? Some leaders don’t, but the good ones usually do.
Read more to see why it’s important . . .Read More
A wise Arab once said, “One hand doesn’t clap.”
One hand needs another hand to make an effective sound. Similarly, humans aren’t meant to function alone. We need others to help us accomplish goals, to laugh and grow together, and to keep us from feeling isolated.
When social isolation occurs, it accentuates any problem.Read More
A new family invited us to have dinner at their home recently. Because we didn’t know each other well, they asked us questions about our life in North Africa.
Their genuine questions invited us to share our story.
Afterwards, we mentioned to them that it had been a long time since we had told our story to someone. It felt good!
We all have stories to tell—fun and not-so-fun stories from our daily lives, encouraging testimonies of changed lives, tough stories of loss and grief that have built up over the course of years, and sometimes, traumatic stories and crisis experiences that we have been forced to walk through.
Whatever story we carry, there are multiple benefits of telling it to others.Read More