Having lived away from my homeland for eight years of my adult life, I often think about the cross-cultural challenges I face. Many of them occur on a daily basis, others thankfully, not so often. I can still recall the first time I left home at 18 when I moved to Germany and how the homesickness hit me, even though it didn’t last for very long.
So as I began reading The Emotionally Resilient Expat. I was somewhat skeptical that I would be able to relate to the content. Emotional Resilience was not a term I was familiar with before reading the book, but it refers to our reserves of emotional, social and cultural intelligence that together, form emotional resilience. It is this essential skill that enables us to adapt to the difficult or stressful situations we may find ourselves in, which as expats, is par for the course.
Author Linda Janssen (a serial expat herself) offers guidance on culture shock, the challenges of living abroad, and how we deal with them but despite being nearly 400 pages long, chapters are broken up into different sections and can be used as a reference guide rather than reading the book from cover to cover.
Part two is called “Pieces of the Emotional Resilience Puzzle.” Here the reader can discover what emotional resilience is and what it consists of. It looks into research in this field and Janssen’s demonstrations that this doesn’t only relate to expats. In Part three, “Putting It All Together,” and the main chapter for those interested in what they can do to improve their resilience in the face of cross cultural challenges, Janssen gives practical tips and techniques, including her ‘FACTORS’ system (family, awareness, communication, transition, optimism, rituals, significance). This is developed further in Part four where the author suggests, through her own expat background, that recalling these factors will lead “to a healthier, more positive, cross cultural experience.”
Janssen mixes facts and research, with anecdotal stories from expats from around the world. Not all the experiences are positive which makes it all the more interesting to read, and at times disturbing. The style is formal, but it is intended for all types of expats, from students and spouses, through to diplomats.
I feel very fortunate that I haven’t faced half the challenges that many of the contributors to this book have experienced but know many other expats, this is not always the case and many want to give up and go home after only a few months. These are the people I would certainly recommend this book to. But having said that, and as I start to think about moving on again myself, I will definitely be keeping my own copy handy.Powered by Sidelines