Opting to live life overseas away from your friends and family can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Some people move abroad and never look back, enjoying every minute of the exciting adventures that an expat life can bring. Others struggle to come to terms with existence in a strange environment and may develop negative emotions that taint their experiences abroad.
Here’s some of the more common expat ‘syndromes’ and how you can make positive changes to stop them interfering in your life and making your life overseas a misery.
Short-time expatriates are those that relocate to a new country for a short period of time, generally a year or less. Quite often these expatriates and their families find it difficult to make new friends and form strong social networks because mentally they, and the people they meet, know that the ties will only be temporary and it won’t be long until they move on again. This is known as short-timer syndrome and can lead to expats feeling isolated and under-valued by their acquaintances.
Expat child syndrome is a term created by psychologists to describe any emotional difficulties that a child experiences as a result of being relocated to a foreign country. It can manifest itself in different ways including unsocial behavior, withdrawal, disruptive behavior and refusal to co-operate. In most cases it is short-lived and slowly dissipates as the children settle into their new lives abroad. In more serious cases, however, it can develop into more significant psychological issues. For more information on Expat Child Syndrome see: Expat Child Syndrome
Last week UK newspaper The Telegraph wrote an article covering the phenomenon of Three Year Syndrome. This usually occurs after an expatriate has been living overseas for a period of around three years (as the name suggests). Three Year Syndrome is characterized by boredom, a lack of interest in the host location and a general feeling of being stuck in a rut. In the worse case scenario The Times suggests:
If you are really unlucky nothing will change and you will become an established part of the bitter and twisted expat club, to be found daily dispensing advice to anyone that will listen
(and cough up the cost of a glass or two) on where it all went wrong and what they should do to avoid the same mistakes.
Trailing spouse syndrome is a term that is applied to an individual who relocates abroad as a result of a move inspired by their partner’s career or personal circumstances. The experiences of the trailing spouse can become negative when they start to experience stress and discontent as a result of being without work or purpose in their host country. In more serious conditions the individual can become withdrawn and their relationship with their partner may seriously suffer. For more information on trailing spouse syndrome see: Trailing spouse
Have you experienced or suffered from any of the above ‘syndromes’? If so leave a comment and let us know what happened. How did you overcome them and what advice can you offer others in a similar situation?
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