Thursday 28th July 2011

Picture of a lady with a map

When you first move overseas life can be pretty busy and exciting. You have a whole new city and country to explore, a lot of things to organize and a whole new world at your feet. No doubt the first few weeks will be jam-packed full of sightseeing, arranging day-to-day life and making the city your home but once all the initial excitement wears off, the trailing spouse may suddenly start to question their role in life and wonder what your purpose in this new city is. This can be especially true for the trailing spouse who was previously employed and enjoyed a thriving career at home. Here are six top tips for surviving life as a trailing spouse and making the most of the incredible opportunities that living abroad offers.

1. Stay positive.

Have you ever heard the saying ‘You get out of life what you put into it’? It couldn’t be more appropriate for life as a trailing spouse. You can either wallow at home feeling sorry for yourself and lamenting the life you had at home or you can get yourself out there and truly embrace the fantastic opportunity you are being given. Exercise, join social clubs, attend meet-and-greets, do whatever it takes to keep your mind and body active. If you attend expat networking events and social opportunities it won’t be long until you meet like-minded people who understand the emotions you are feeling and can relate to your situation. You are also likely to meet people who have made a success of life as a trailing spouse and from them you will gain inspiration and motivation.

2. Rebuild your identity.

You may feel that relocating to a new country has changed you as a person and stripped you of the person you were when you were at home. It is very important that you find a new place for yourself in the world and create a new identity for yourself in your new country. Consider who you would like to be and what you would like to get out of life and make it happen, this, of course, may take some creativity…

3. Get creative.

Okay, so you may not be able to continue the career you had at home and may struggle to find a different job in your host country. Yes, it’s frustrating and you may even feel some resentment and anger. However, it doesn’t mean that you are forever banished to a life of daytime television and coffee mornings. Think out of the box and consider doing something completely new. You may wish to start your own business, participate in voluntary work or even go back to university and get a degree in something that interests you. Take a look at our guide to 5 great ways trailing spouses can earn their keep for inspiration.

4. Find a mentor.

In the majority of countries it’s not really what you know, it’s who you know. If you’re interested in trying to find a job in a particular industry or career or are contemplating starting your own business, actively seek a mentor who already has some experience in that field and ask them to guide and support you. You will be surprised how willing many people are to help other expats, especially people who were once in the situation that you are in.

5. Concentrate on the here and now.

Don’t live in the past. Enjoy the here and now. Get out and try foods, activities and entertainment that you have never tried before and be open to new ideas and new possibilities. The only thing stopping you from making your move abroad the adventure of a lifetime is you. Just believe in yourself and embrace the challenges as they arise.

Have you experienced life as a trailing spouse? Do you have any tips you can offer to new expats who are struggling to adjust? Please tell us all about them by leaving a comment below.

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