What’s Johnny Depp doing down under?

Johnny Depp is currently in Australia, shooting the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie. And, like many globally mobile professionals, he misses his pets. Last month, Depp arranged to have his Yorkshire terriers, Boo and Pistol, flown into the country via private jet. But the dogs returned home a few days later after Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce threatened their euthanization, as well as a fine and imprisonment for their owner.

Had the award-winning actor consulted Living Abroad’s International Relocation Center before trying to reunite with his furry friends, he would have learned that relocating pets to Australia is a complicated, lengthy process. However, he would also have discovered a number of resources to make it easier. The Department of Agriculture provides comprehensive information about pet importation online, not only for cats and dogs, but other pets as well.  If they provide a few pieces of information, cat and dog owners can even obtain a customized calendar that outlines the entire importation process, and provides key dates.

In fact, the Australian government provides a wealth of online information for its visitors. Other highly useful sites include:

Tourism Australia’s directory of annual events and festivals throughout Australia:
http://www.tourism.australia.com/story-ideas/2015-australian-events-2015-city-calendar.aspx

The Australia.gov directory of all government smartphone apps: http://www.australia.gov.au/news-and-media/apps

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection website, where visitors can determine their visa type and apply for it online: http://www.immi.gov.au/

The National Public Toilet Map, which provides comprehensive information on 16,000 publicly available restrooms throughout Australia: https://toiletmap.gov.au/

Now that several weeks have passed since Boo and Pistol’s return to the United States, entertainment news headlines suggest Mr. Depp’s stay in Australia is pleasant again. But if he decides to bring his other pet to Australia, we hope he’s now aware that there’s more to the importation process than coaxing a horse named Goldeneye onto a private jet.

By Erin Fitzgerald, GMS, International Product Manager

Connecting in Hong Kong, communicating in Canada, transporting in Lagos

If you are reading this in Hong Kong right now, you may be using one of the city’s many Wi-Fi options. Connect to “GovWiFi” in major parks, visitor centers, public libraries, sports and cultural/recreational centers, and government buildings. In addition, Hong Kong’s mass transit system, MTR, now provides up to five 15-minute sessions of free Wi-Fi access per device daily. More free Wi-Fi access is provided by Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) and Y5ZONE, as well as csl Wi-Fi.

All these Wi-Fi options around Hong Kong help residents and visitors work and communicate on the go.

Speaking of communicating, citizens of every nation are using more technology and less paper. In fact, Canada Post was headed toward operating losses of $1 billion per year before a five-point plan was developed to better serve Canada’s 15.7 million addresses. Now they’re changing the way mail is delivered to about a third of Canadians, installing Community Mailboxes rather than delivering house to house.

Other changes include tiered postage pricing, new retail franchises, and streamlined operations that aim to save money while still meeting today’s customer needs. With completion expected by 2019, it will be interesting to watch the evolution of the postal service in this vast country.

Of course, the postal service isn’t the only way to deliver things. Would it surprise you to know that in Lagos, Nigeria, a taxi company offers parcel delivery? Tranzit allows people in Lagos to hire a taxi from its pool of licensed drivers, book a car and driver for several hours, or – yes – even deliver packages, documents, and other items. Services are arranged via phone, web, or Android app. Easy Taxi also offers taxi service in Lagos, and offers apps for iOS and Windows as well as Android. Taxi arrival can be tracked, and driver photos are provided.

It’s knowing details like where to access Wi-Fi in Hong Kong, how to pick up your mail in Canada, and how to get yourself around Lagos that makes living abroad easier.

By Ellen Harris, GMS, International Product Director, Living Abroad

Top strategies to identify and deal with “expat fatigue”

Expat fatigue isn’t one of those things like the stomach flu, where you know it when you’ve got it. If it were, it would be fairly obvious how to identify and deal with it. Instead expat fatigue has this sneaky habit of flying under the radar.

If your excitement for being in a new place has ever taken a nose dive into intense frustration or listless exasperation, you may be experiencing expat fatigue.

Sure, expat fatigue is expected and natural outcome of adapting to a new place. Left unchecked, however, this may be a form of self-sabotage. When you allow yourself or your loved ones to get consumed by expat fatigue, you hijack the very sense of adventure that inspired your expatriate life in the first place. What is really at risk? The expatriate assignment, important relationships and one´s own happiness. These are high stakes.

I don´t want this to happen to you. That is why I am going to share with you the ins and outs of expat fatigue so you can know what it is, be able to spot when it starts creeping in and have a handful of strategies at your fingertips to be able to deal with it successfully.

Name the Beast

Road rage on the way home from work. Refusal to learn the local language. Religiously stirring up evening cocktails. Gut-wrenching homesickness. On their own, none seem to point in an obvious direction, but when you recognize the name of the beast you are facing, you are better able to cope with it. Dr. Dan Siegel of Mindsight calls this strategy, “Name it to tame it.” By knowing the signs of expat fatigue, you are better positioned to get out of it.

Let me share with you my “name” for expat fatigue so you can get on with taming the beast.

Expat fatigue is intimately woven with the process of adapting to a new culture. It may begin with culture shock, that initial discomfort or disorientation when you are in unfamiliar waters. This initial blow to the system is just one of the many steps along the winding and bumpy road of adaptation. After the jolt of the unfamiliar fades, cultural fatigue may set in. You can think of it as the long-term impact of being in a culturally different environment. David L. Szanton’s often quoted definition gets at the heart of this:

 

Cultural Fatigue is the physical and emotional exhaustion that almost invariably results from the infinite series of minute adjustments required for long-term survival in an alien culture. (1)


David Szanton goes on to name the demanding nature of suspending our default responses, including how we evaluate something, and the tiring effort required to constantly adapt our approach. Szanton is straightforward, “conscious or unconscious, successful, or unsuccessful [this process] consumes an enormous amount of energy leaving the individual decidedly fatigued.”

Throw this hefty extension of energy upon a layer of fatigue from the cyclical nature of expat life (i.e. prepare to leave, say painful good byes, pack, leave, arrive, unpack, meet new people, adjust, find a routine – rinse and repeat), and voilà! You´ve got expat fatigue.

Tame the Beast

If you want to deal with expat fatigue effectively, you will want to have laser-like focus. Cross-cultural psychologists Ward, Bochner, and Furnham (2) help us simplify the complex process of adapting to a new or unfamiliar cultural environment by breaking it down to the ABCs (Affect, Behaviour, and Cognition).

A is for Affect: Pay attention to your feelings.

What to look out for: Take note when you feel confused, anxious or feel isolated. You might experience the overwhelming desire to simply be somewhere else or catch yourself flipping out at relatively minor incidents. Be careful if you notice these red flags appearing at an increasing frequency. Pay attention if your body is screaming at you in the form of sleep or digestive problems, or a dramatic loss of appetite. Letting any of these tendencies go may lead down a dangerous path to depression.

Try this: I hate to state the obvious but taking care of your health and well-being should be your top priority. This means enough rest, exercise and excellent nutrition. Seems simple enough, right? It’s not. Think of how many people struggle with eating well and sleeping enough in a non-expat context!

• Focus on your health so you can regain strength and clarity. It is imperative.
• Try slowing down how quickly or intensely you dive into the unfamiliar.
• Be creative in building “safe havens” of familiarity once a week.

Who knows! Adding in time to eat comfort foods on the sofa with a feel-good movie may be just what you need.

B is for Behaviour: Pay attention to your actions.

What to look out for: When we are in a new cultural context our “natural” behaviour may not always fit in. You know this when you come across as awkward or even inappropriate. (Arg…I hate it when that happens!). This can be draining on so many levels. What is simple for the locals (say, driving in erratic traffic and waiting in line at the bank or even greeting people) ends up requiring a huge extension of your patience or effort. Going through your days feeling like you are always “messing up” or that everything you do is a momentous challenge takes a toll.

It is time to take note when you notice a dramatic change in your self-confidence or assertiveness. Maybe your leadership style suddenly includes “giving up” or “giving in.” You may even find yourself privately making insulting comments about the locals (especially in the car!). A downslide in work performance, refusal to speak the local language or a gradual yet increasing dependency on alcohol are all signs to watch out for.

Try this:

  • Seek to understand the “whys” behind local practices
  • Seek out credible resources to increase your cultural understanding.
  • Identify low-risk opportunities for you to try out new behaviours and get feedback.
  • Take detailed notes of what you are learning (such as new words in the local language or the best way to negotiate at the market). Refer to these often to celebrate your progress.


C is for Cognition: Pay attention to your thoughts.

This is hands down the most complex and least straightforward aspect. You may start feeling worn down and not be able to identify exactly why. Keep in mind that when you are in the middle of adapting to a place that is significantly different from your familiar stomping grounds, you may discover that the way you see the world, how you see yourself or the groups that you belong is being challenged.

What to look out for: You suddenly notice that how you have typically seen yourself is not how others see you – and it troubles you. Maybe you go from thinking of yourself as middle-class to being seen as rich, from being an American to called a “foreigner”, from a colleague on equal footing to someone of lower (or higher) status.

Shifts like these can spur emotions like guilt, shock, confusion or even frustration.

Try this: Know that when you start grappling with big topics like identity, nationality, poverty, injustice, equality, and generally “what is right and wrong”, it is a sign that you are developing.

• When something new is being presented to you, find out how you can learn from it.
• Take the opportunity to learn more about your own culture. What are my main values? My core assumptions? What did I see as “normal” that isn’t shared by my new community?

Expat fatigue is a mirror of resilience

If you are feeling the effects of expat fatigue, it is time to seriously think about your current level of resiliency. Don´t get close to the breaking point.

Instead, ask yourself these 3 important questions:

• What isn’t working anymore that needs to change?
• What strategies am I using right now that are unhealthy in the long run?
• What is one small thing I can do this week to make things a bit better?

Now it is your turn. What is the number one thing that brings you down the most about expat life? Share it in the comments section of my blog.

Sundae Schneider-Bean is an intercultural specialist, coach and trainer based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (West Africa) who helps individuals and organizations meet their toughest intercultural challenges with clarity, strength and wisdom. Sundae is the founder of Trailblazing Spouse®, a program designed to help trailing spouses live in closer alignment with their passions and skills. Sign up for free expert insight and you´ll receive a gift – the Expat Trump Cards – a unique set of digital cards aimed at helping you tackle the toughest aspects of global life.

Contact her directly if you´d like to reverse expat fatigue and get back your sense of adventure.

(1) David L. Szanton, “Cultural Confrontation in the Philippines” in Textor, ed. Cultural Frontiers of the Peace Corps, 36.
(2) Ward, C. A., Bochner, S., & Furnham, A. (2001). The psychology of culture shock. New York, NY: Routledge.


 

Xavier Patrick (Xpat) Moose is coming to Houston!

February is here and Living Abroad is hitting the road! Major stop:  energy capital of the world, Houston, Texas.  We will exhibit and attend the 2nd Annual Forum for Expatriate Management’s Totally Expat Show held at the downtown Hyatt Regency on February 25. If you’re attending, please stop by the Living Abroad booth A9 for some fun.

Living Abroad is hosting the popular Moose Passport program with partners AIRINC, ACS International Schools, Switchplace, International Auto Source, Cultural Awareness International, CORT Global Furniture Rental Network, and Fragomen LLP. Pick up your passport from any of our booths.  Stop by all the others to receive a stamp.  Once your passport is complete, return it to the Living Abroad booth and collect your plush moose doll.  You could win $1500!

Pre-register for your Moose Passport here!

Moose small for Houston<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
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Congratulations to the FEM Global Mobility Summit Moose Passport Winner!

Congratulations are in order for Jayne Neal, Prudential, who was the winner of the Moose Passport drawing held at FEM’s Global Mobility Summit in London on October 19.  The lucky winner went home with £1,000 cash.  The contest was sponsored by Living Abroad, AIRINC, Fragomen, NetExpat, and Santa Fe.  Pictured in the photo are Michael Cadden of Living Abroad, Brian Friedman of FEM/Centaur, Jayne Neal of Prudential, Cathy Heyne of Living Abroad and Phil Hayne of Centaur.

Come to the Global Mobility Summit in London and win £1,000

Please stop by our stand at the Global Mobility Summit in London on October 19 to introduce yourself and pick up your Moose Passport.  You may also reserve a passport by clicking on the link below.  Every delegate at the Summit has a chance to enter the Moose Passport competition to win £1,000 CASH. The Moose Passport is available at the following stands: Living Abroad, AIRINC, Fragomen, NetExpat and Interdean.

Click here for the registration form to secure your Moose Passport.

Death on Assignment by Erin Fitzgerald

There are few topics that elicit more of an emotional response than those dealing with death. Fitzgerald offers a look at the process for addressing the unthinkable — an employee passing away while on assignment.

Totally Expat Show – New York City

The first U.S. Totally Expat Show, sponsored by the Forum for Expatriate Management, took place last week at New York City’s Metropolitan Pavilion. The conference was a great success! Suzanne McKaba, of Unilever, was the lucky winner of the $1,000 Moose Passport sponsored by Living Abroad, AIRINC, Cort, Fragomen, HTH Worldwide, Interdean and Net Expat. Congratulations, Suzanne!

Living Abroad and Forum for Expat Management

Living Abroad LLC just returned from London after exhibiting at the May 16  Totally Expat Show staged by the Forum for Expat Management (FEM).  We are getting ready to participate with the popular Moose Passport at the June 14 Totally Expat Show in NYC.

Living Abroad also runs FEM’s successful NYC chapter, in cooperation with KPMG, where we have come to know many of the greater NYC global mobility professionals.  Our next evening networking event is June 2.

New From Living Abroad

Living Abroad is please announce our completed updated offerings to support you and your international assignees.