Multiculturalism, expatriation and repatriation- three ways of straddling cultures, bringing growth, strengths and and strains.
A multicultural person is one who grows up with several cultures, whether born abroad, having family of different origins, or having lived in different places. Being multicultural opens you up to new possibilities, but it can be difficult to know when to stop. One can fall into a “grass is always greener” phenomenon, looking always to other careers, cultures, partners, jobs. There is also “cherry picking” nostalgia, where one fondly remembers certain elements of other cultures, at the expense of the here and now. All of which can make it difficult to lock in, commit, and move forward in the place in which one finds oneself.
One definition of expats is people who go abroad in search of professional or cultural opportunity. The definition is clear yet broad, embracing economic migrant as much as high-level executives. One could say that we are optimists, bringing hope, energy, curiosity and diversity where we land.
Expatriation is exciting, challenging, horizon-stretching. It can bring all sorts of advantages as it feeds the mind, opens the eye, and nourishes the spirit.But a longterm move into a completely different environment. can be stressful, too. Living in another culture promotes our flexibility, as it pushes us to question our values and theirs, to give up some habits and customs some and strengthen others. While it calls many things into question for both the person who expatriates and those who accompany him, it can also be an opportunity to rethink and renew your priorities, values and relations.
It can also engender a sense of DISPLACEMENT, ALIENATION, UPROOTEDNESS, and LONELINESS. You or your partner may feel sense of diminished opportunity if your background, profession or academic achievements are not fully valued or recognised. And working and living with people who don’t necessarily share your cultural assumptions, references or values can have a far-reaching effect on your sense of where you belong.
Repatriation has its own challenges, that are not always acknowledged and dealt with. Coming home to a country one has been away from for years is not as easy as one might have thought. You realise just how much living abroad has changed you, while those around you may expect you to fit right back into your earlier mold. Or you look around the place you thought you knew by heart and find that it has moved on without you, and that you no longer have your reference points here. Such displacement can be extremely disorienting, for if home is not that dreamed-of refuge, what is? Home, so familiar-unfamiliar, perhaps so long dreamed of, can require profound and unexpected readjustments.
That’s when it can be good to talk to a coach…