Supporting An Expat: Engaging Experiences

Displaced, isolated, lonely. They are not the typical words you would associate with someone that has made the decision to live in a different country from their origin. However the fact remains that this is how many expats and internationally educated nurses feel in their first six to twelve months of moving abroad.

We do make the decision to move away from our home land for various reasons be it travel, professional growth, better quality of life and so much more, and this is definitely well thought out and intentional. This doesn’t make us immune from the longing for whats familiar, comfortable and safe.

Aussie tradition: PYO strawberries

No one is expecting this all to be avoided because it’s part of the expat process, but there are things you can do to help.

  1. Family dinners are a great opportunity to share family life with others, and offers a welcome gathering for many that may be missing the experience of being surrounded by family. Across the world, meal times are seen to be a time of connecting with loved ones, and the perfect time to share the experiences of the day. Why not invite someone new around your family table sometime!
  2. Renting a spare room is great on so many levels. On one hand you are being financially resourceful, and in the meanwhile you are providing some much needed, affordable accommodation for another. We know that the rental market is incredibly hard right now, so you can imagine how challenging this could be for someone who has left everything they’ve ever known, moved to a foreign country with different social rules and day to day processes, and juggling learning a new work life and preparing for OSCE. It’s a lot. If someone can help with a safe affordable roof over your head it can take enormous pressure and stress off.
  3. Lunch breaks at work can be especially lonely, with all the usual cliques and peer groups vying for the same break allocation as each other. It’s challenging to break into these friendship groups and often as a newcomer it can be particularly scary to try. It’s a kindness to ask someone to join you at break times, and building these peer relationships not only benefits the individual but can change the dynamics of the team for good.
  4. Driving in the UK is certainly a harrowing experience if you are not used to small winding roads and eight foot tall hedges you can’t see around, and lets not mention the junctions with a billion lights, lanes and exits to navigate. Many expats that are not from a country whose license is recognised often wait a while before attempting to sit the written and practical exam. This means that attending training offsite can be challenging and expensive, and the offer of car sharing is well recieved and appreciated – I know this because I have done this often when I am able for my colleagues. You may even find that car sharing has some financial perks with workplaces starting to explore incentives for this.
  5. Many cultures across the world thrive on social connection and gatherings not only to celebrate important times of the year but also to remain part of a community. As an Australian I have missed this the most, there’s something reassuring about gathering together to share food, stories and company that makes the absence of this glaringly obvious. What better way to show kindness than to share those celebrations and perhaps those of our international colleagues.
  6. The beauty of a diverse community is the richness that comes with so many cultures living and working together, but this richness is only enjoyed during the cultural exchanges that help us celebrate our differences and embrace our similarities. I love nothing more than sharing what is “home” for me and learning what is “home” for others. There are so many opportunities for this including recipe and food sharing, celebrating each others important dates, and even just the art of conversation where you can learn more about each other as you go about your day – just be curious.

Home will always be home

If this demonstrates anything, it’s that kindness can be shown in the simplest of ways…how will you show kindness to others?

Cheers From Kent, Tams

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s