I’ve moved location 7 times and house 12 times in the last 17 years. I know this is not a winner in terms of number and frequency of moves amongst the international community, but it does mean that change has been a pretty big constant in my families lives. In fact, having now been back in the UK for nearly three years I do find myself gazing interestingly at international removal lorries and wondering, with a modicum of jealousy about their upcoming transitions. There is something addictive about new beginnings….
International relocation is a massive undertaking, one that is not always recognised as such at the outset – you can’t know what you don’t know. In this podcast this week, Evelyn and I talk about how our experiences lead us to write our book THRIVING ABROAD, which is launched today.
I (Louise) remember our first move to Madrid as an exciting but challenging time. My early euphoria at not having to get up for work, soon morphed into a sense of aimlessness. There are only so many times you can go to the gym in any one week, and with a husband who was working looooong hours I was initially home alone far too much. Spanish lessons were a distraction -but I soon found verb conjugation on my shady balcony was no substitute for real conversation.
Relocating to live in Lisbon several years later, admittedly not a huge distance away, was enough to unsettle and mean starting all over again. We battled with bureaucracy and unpleasant neighbours (a very long story) – suffice to say it was not the best start. We were responsible for the entire move, no company support at all… yep it was a stressful time.
What I realise now looking back is that over time we developed a process and way of coping with the change. Each move is bitter sweet, saying goodbye is sad, not easy way around that, but fortunately it is balanced with the excitement of new beginnings and opportunities. While the emotions are never easy, over time the template for relocation grows and each move becomes more automatic and hopefully organised.
Our greatest relocation moment was when we managed to organize a move out from one house in 24 hours, from phoning the removal company, to packing up furniture, possessions and kids – all gone overnight – we were seriously impressed with ourselves. And no, we were not running from the law, well not directly. Our landlord was about to have all possessions repossessed by the bailiffs and ours were not differentiated from hers. My husband managed to sweet talk the bailiff into returning just a few days later – giving us time to make a very quick exit.
But I digress, back to international relocation:
There is a flow to the whole process. A rhythm and sequence of practical and emotional ups and downs. No two moves are ever the same; culture, location, jobs and life stages account for that – but there are similarities and we can learn certain things from one move that can be applied to others.
THRIVING ABROAD the book was born from this experience of change and the lessons learned along the way. It is the book I would have loved to have all those years ago in Madrid. The Framework for Thriving Abroad reminds us to put ourselves at the centre of the relocation process. To gain clarity about what makes it a valuable experience for us from a professional, personal and family perspective. Professional clarity would have certainly helped me in those early years, I drifted for more years than I care to remember.
It also emphasises the importance of setting realistic expectations. Ensuring that the decision is founded on an understanding of both the opportunities and challenges of such a massive life change.
Written with input from expat experts, experienced expats and global mobility professionals, THRIVING ABROAD offers a guide to thriving professionally and personally through the experience of international mobility.
It is relevant to anyone who is:
- considering embarking on an international relocation with their organisation as an international assignee.
- considering embarking on an international relocation with their partner.
- preparing to relocate abroad.
- living abroad already but wondering where the experience will take them next, professionally and personally.
Also, available to all owners of the book is the accompanying workbook – a helpful tool to support you through the relocation process.
You can learn more about THRIVING ABROAD: The definitive guide to professional and personal relocation success HERE
What people are saying:
‘It’s an indispensable read for the assignees and their partners, a book to keep handy in the messiest moment of a family’s life. With its check lists and adaptation strategies, it’s a great tool for coping with rationality and order to change and transition.’ Marta Guarneri, expat with 20 years of experience both as assignee and partner
You can listen to the authors: Louise Wiles and Evelyn Simpson talk about the book HERE on iTunes
Go straight to AMAZON to buy the book online.