Home > Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas > TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS: #10 – Surround yourself with positive people. Do not allow negative comments and attitudes to darken your outlook.

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS: #10 – Surround yourself with positive people. Do not allow negative comments and attitudes to darken your outlook.

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS

10. Surround yourself with positive people. Do not allow negative comments and attitudes to darken your outlook.

It is hard to stay positive, but when culture shock is at its worst, it is very easy to slip.  Sure the other new teachers at your school (and the veteran ones) have a lot to say to you about the host country and culture, but you just might find yourself joining in with them. Commence the inevitable negative thought process!

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

It is hard to know exactly about the meaning behind those negative comments from your coworkers (or from yourself).  Are they saying those things because that is just what you do and say when you are an expat, even if it is said like it is only a joke.  On the other hand, people say things as a joke under stressful times and there is usually much truth behind their negative comment.

Some things are small and people are easily quick to be negative about it.

“Why do I have a pay this media tax? I never had to pay this in any of the other countries I’ve lived in.  I don’t even have a TV.  I refused to pay this stupid fee!”

“Seriously the internet in this country is so slow. You can even access Facebook and Youtube here.  Now I have to pay for a VPN service, which usually makes my internet connect even slower!”

“Nothing is open around here.  Good luck finding a store open after 18h here.”

“Arg! It is so dirty here.  I open the windows to my apartment and one hour later the floors are covered in a thin layer of dust.  I can’t want to move back to a country that is cleaner!”

There are many more things to talk negatively about when living in another country.  We forget too, under the influence of culture shock, that there are many negative aspects to living in our home country as well (e.g. getting a cable service repair person to come to your home to fix your internet or cable).  People complain and obsess about negative aspects of their lives in their home countries too.  But some might say that is your country so maybe you are “allowed” to say negative things every once and awhile about your own culture and way of doing things.  Is it different or the same then when living abroad?  When you are in a host country, the country is your “host.”  Certainly, we all would agree that you should try and be gracious to your host.

Some things though are NOT small, and can be quite important in relation to your life abroad.

“Be ready to not get paid on time.  Last year, we didn’t get paid until three weeks after the salary payment date! Why don’t we get paid on time?  There is nothing we can do about too.”

“The building management in our apartment complex steals our money.  They are giving us bills that are way more expensive than the locals that are living in our building.”

“I have been waiting for six months to get reimbursed for things that I purchased for the school!  I am also waiting to get reimbursed for my flight allowance….for LAST YEAR!”

“My last schools didn’t have this much work to do.  It is unbelievable about much I have to work at this school.  I don’t know if I can handle working until 19:00 every day after school!”

When there is something negative related to your home, your salary or your money (in general), then it is very easy to be sensitive to these situations.  Maybe then you are allowed to voice your concerns (i.e. be a bit negative).  Hopefully though there is something that you can do about it; get your school administration involved, the local police, etc.  Also, it is important to remember that these things might be temporary as well, inconveniences that will pass after a few weeks or months.

“Don`t be trapped by Dogma – which is living the results of other people`s thinking.   Don`t let the noise of other`s drown out your own inner voice.   And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

So, knowing that there are going to be negative comments heard and negative comments coming out of your mouth at some point, the key is to try and stay positive as much as possible.  Don’t let the negative thoughts and comments take over and take control of your thinking.  Your life in your new country will be full of ups and downs, that is a given.  Realizing that simple thing, could dramatically keep your negative thoughts to a minimum.  Also, maybe think twice about sharing all of your negative thoughts with your friends and coworkers, some might be best to keep to yourself anyways.

How do you try and stay positive in your current placement?  Share your comments with the rest of the International School Community readers.

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  1. NSessions
    4 April, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Well said. I too believe it is important to try to stay positive and associate with positive thinking people. It is often tough to be positive when there are legitimate things to complain about or compare to other places or when you are amongst a group of complaining people. Sometimes I find that celebrating some of the exciting things about living in the host country helps: going to a local market, museum, festival or exhibit, observing the culture around me (especially doing it with friends or colleagues that are also celebrating the wonder of the culture around us.) Living overseas is great and I’m glad I’ve had the experience, even if it has been tough at times.

    • 4 April, 2012 at 11:40 pm

      Great idea/reminder. I also agree that it might change your mind frame if you provide yourself opportunities to interact with the locals by going to a market, a festival, etc. Making sure to get yourself “out there” is important to help you possibly feel more integrated.

  2. 5 April, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Great article, thanks! I think that a sense of humor, flexibility and comfort with ambiguity are qualities that will get you through an international assignment when things don’t go as expected. It’s also helpful to keep things in perspective and to step back and realize that whatever is happening is not the end of the world. It is very easy to become negative and to start blaming the local culture and the people. Instead, it’s helpful to reach out to them and seek their advice. You can use the daily difficulties as an excuse to get to know the local people better.

    • 5 April, 2012 at 10:32 am

      Hi Lindsay. Thanks for your comment. The one issue I have when reaching out to a local, seeking their advice, is that then my mind thinks that all the locals think the same as this one local (which of course is not true). So, in my experience it is good to seek the advice of many locals! 🙂

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