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DOs and DON’Ts of Being the “Expat Left Behind”

DOs and DON’Ts of Being the “Expat Left Behind”iStockphoto

Seeing your expat friends leave town and being the “expat left behind” can be rather challenging. However, our guest author Gabrielle has put together some DOs and DON’Ts to help you make the situation easier for you and your friends and to, finally, embrace the change.

It seems like every year as the summer warmth starts to fade, a flock of expats have the urge to move out and leave town with it.  This yearly wave of exits seems to be starting up again. Having been an expat for many years now, I know this yearly migration pattern well.  Many times I myself was the exiting expat. But since I have been living in the same area now for almost 4 years, with no impending plans of departure, I often face what I refer to as being "the expat left behind". What I mean by the “expat left behind” is simply that my fellow expat friends who used to be in my surroundings are choosing to leave, while I am remaining in the same place, essentially being “left behind” while others move on.

Embrace the Change

Watching your friends leave can be a very hard process. But just because your friends are leaving town does not mean that your life as an expat is suddenly going to become horrible and lonely.  It’s just going to be different and you are going to have to learn to adapt and embrace these changes and new opportunities. Being the expat left behind comes with its own share of responsibilities.   As I have experienced this often over the years, I have some words of wisdom to impart on the ‘do’s and don’ts’ to ease with the process when your friends are leaving:

Don’t

Do

Don’t

Do

Do

Don’t

Do

And most importantly…be appreciative. This is applicable on all levels. Be appreciative of the friendships and experiences that you have already experienced, are currently experiencing, and are yet to experience. The nature of the expat experience is that people are always coming and going. The temporariness and the challenge of the expat situation is part of what accelerates the friendship creation and makes it so special.  As said before, we are connected now more than ever, whether it is through electronic media or the more affordable means to travel. Goodbyes are rarely permanent unless you want them to be or for forces out of your control. In closure, I leave you with an A.A. Milne quote, which seems to sum up the idea of saying goodbyes: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I couldn’t agree with him more.

 

Gabrielle Byko is an international communication professional who has studied and been working in Germany and Austria for the past 6 years. She has a passion for experiencing international culture exchange in all of its forms.

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