When moving abroad doesn’t go to plan

After months preparing for a move abroad, it’s finally time to leave. Everything is in place for a new life in a new country. However, sometimes things don’t go quite as expected. Unforeseen events may arise. It’s important to deal with hurdles if you want a successful move abroad.

When preparing for life in a new country, it’s important that you adapt to your new environment and quickly work out ways to help yourself acclimatise and get around any issues. Nevertheless, even with the best will in the world, difficulties will arise during international moves.

The language

The first hurdle is often the language. Although in most countries English is the language used for business, employees often communicate in their native tongue. Not understanding what your colleagues are saying to each other is not a good way to integrate successfully at a company.

It’s true that it would be asking a lot to master Chinese or Russian in a few weeks, but do try and learn a few simple phrases in a new language to facilitate communication and give the impression that you want to fit in. Online translators like Google Translate are useful tools which can help you master the basics of a new language.


Most expats feel homesick after a while. Different customs and cultures, being far from loved ones at home and loneliness can all lead someone to lose their bearings and feel unhappy or even depressed. This is often the time when an individual wonders if they have really made the right decision in moving abroad.

However, homesickness is not the end of the world. It’s important to adapt to change from day one and approach things with an open attitude. Sometimes curiosity can be a wonderful quality: here it can help you understand new ways of life in your host country. However, you will need to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you are unlikely to feel comfortable in a strange environment overnight. But, with a little perseverance, you will get used to things and find your place.

If, however, the homesickness remains, getting in contact with loved ones can help. Modern communications methods such as Skype help people feel less distant even if in truth they are thousands of kilometres away.  Expat groups and organisations are also a good way to become less isolated. You can chat, talk about your experiences and often make friends who share your values and culture.

A new job

Expats are often recruited to fill a skills gap in a local market and bring their expertise to a company. Unfortunately, sometimes the work they find themselves doing can differ wildly from the promises they were made before departure.

Managers with an employee from another culture sometimes do not truly see the new employee’s skillset, sometimes simply because of different working methods. The employee is thus given tasks at a level below the one for which they were recruited. Tension can quickly arise along with stress if an expat can’t find their place in their new company. Being some distance from the company head office can also increase feelings of abandonment.

Meeting with HR to discuss the issue as soon as possible so the situation doesn’t become entrenched or worsen and seeking support from an understanding colleague are ways to help you get yourself out of a tricky situation.

No matter the reason for an international move not going to plan, it’s important not to close in on yourself. Solutions exist and they can be found. If your attempts to integrate aren’t helping you feel more comfortable in your new environment, you can turn to international psychological support consultancy Cigap which offers expats specialist assistance.

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