Posts in Psychoeducational
The Top 4 Stressors in Expat Life, and What to Do

I stepped off a plane into the summer heat of Casablanca, Morocco with my two boys (3 and 5 years old). It was August of 1997. My boss and his welcome committee all ended up on vacation the week we arrived. 

“That’s ok, we can do this!”

We were excited for the adventure before us and easily sloughed off getting lost in a taxi with no cell phone. We didn’t get outwardly frustrated trying to find food in a store where we couldn’t read the labels. Even trying to find our own housing with no native English speaker to help was ok . . . for about a month. 

We started off with the honeymoon (link to culture shock graphic) excitement and joy that you may remember. But over time, the stress of cross-cultural living settled in, and we began to carry around the weight of it. Now, after all these years, we not only can look back and identify the stress we faced, but we can more easily see it in the new people that arrive each year. 

So what are the common stressors we see? 

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8 Excellent Ways to Make it Safe to Share in Teams

We all sat in a circle, silent. No one from our team wanted to start. No one wanted to go first. No one wanted to be the first to tell their story.

The assignment was to go around the room, everyone sharing how they were feeling about the new team structure. It was personal, and no one felt comfortable opening their mouth and baringbearing all. No one was ready to open their heart and be vulnerable about their feelings.

Were safety and trust present? 

The team leader rarely showed transparency or vulnerability, rarely admitted his own faults or personal struggles. He seemed to have his life together. His marriage and his family appeared to be perfect. 

All of us on the team feared being judged by the others. We wondered if

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How to Identify the Losses of Expat Life

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.

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Has my discouragement moved into depression? How to know.

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 . . .

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What Powerful Results Can You Gain From Telling Your Story?

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.

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The Wonderful and Unusual Life of a TCK

Flags, lawn chairs, and people lined the streets. We heard the drums in the distance, signaling the start of the parade.

"Is the king about to come?" my 8-year-old son asked.

I giggled inwardly, but looked at him with adoring eyes.

"In Morocco, yes. But this is different. We're in America getting ready to celebrate their Independence Day. America has a president, and he won't come to this parade."

Ah, the life of a child growing up in more than one culture!

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GOOD Grief - How to Get Started on the Journey

It’s like a switch deep inside me. I can turn it on, but it’s more common for me to turn it off.  

Two whole years had passed by since we had last seen my dad. I had just arrived in Florida, along with my two young children, when my dad called to say that he was driving through the area. I was thrilled. He then went on to mention that he could only stop by long enough to have lunch. Only lunch? Only an hour or two of the day? I felt the loss and sadness begin to well up, so I threw my switch to the “off” position.

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