Thursday, 24 November 2011

The Origin of the Turkey

Virginia, famous for ham, #2 choice today
I grew up in the UK and we traditionally eat turkey at Christmas. It hadn’t occurred to me that the turkey isn’t indigenous to the UK. I hadn’t seen one in the countryside, but I assumed because it is the traditional bird for Christmas that it must have been indigenous at one point.

In fact, the turkey is only indigenous to the US. The first turkey made it to Britain in the 17th century. They were original identified as guineas foul. Guinea fouls where also known as turkeys because they came through Turkey.

Ben Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national symbol of the US, but the other founding fathers thought that a turkey didn’t really represent their ideas.

This thanksgiving I am not sure if I will have turkey. My husband is taking me out for lunch, but the restaurant is a surprise.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Subterranean Homesick Blues

Building a life in a new country has some unexpected experiences.

Where can I get my mail?
On my first international assignment, I was just out of school and I was nesting for the first time. This time, my family and I have returned to a place we have lived before, but we are still waiting for our belongings to arrive.

It seems like it wouldn't matter, but it has made us feel that we don't have a home. The excitement of shopping for new items has worn off and the patience needed to wait for the old ones to arrive has worn out. I find myself longing for my pancake pan, a food processor and the old chair that I love to sit in.

The issue is that you can't live a home life anywhere but home. I love to eat out, but if I want to control my nutrition I can't choose an item high in the nutrients I feel I'm lacking from any restaurant menu. I miss getting out the nutrition books, selecting an item to replenish lost nutrients with and then choosing a recipe that includes it.

I can't set up a reading area with a comfy chair and good light, and I can't arrange our cafe table to eat when TV dinners aren't on the menu!

Understanding Your Lifestyle Needs

To understand your lifestyle needs, ask yourself questions that help you understand how you have created your current lifestyle.
  • Am I an adventurous eater? If you are sent on a short-term international assignment where you will be living and eating in the hotel, you may feel unhappy that the city is beyond your reach and you can't explore it in the way you want.
  • How important are your intellectual pursuits? If you like to read you won't be able to go abroad with your book collection. This may seem irrelevant, but if you are unable to reference something for work (or for fun) then you may feel adrift and frustrated. It would only take 5 minutes if I had...
  • What do I value about being in my home? I value having alone time. This helps me to recharge and engage with people. If I am unable to recharge I become exhausted, which leads to poor mental and physical health.
Tip: When designing International Human Resource Management expatriate benefit packages, consider the well being of your employees and not just the cost of the assignment.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Virtual Explorers

Families that move abroad face identity issues. You may have to dress differently and speak differently. The environment is different and the people you meet are new. How do you establish a connection to the people at home who don’t understand the changes that are happening to you?

doshebu's avatar
Create an Online World to Explore Identity

Games are great learning tool. According to Intrepid Learning, “72% of American households play games regularly.”

Creating a new world in Second Life and choosing an avatar is a fun way for you and your family to explore identity. You can learn about changes to your values and how you build relationship with people who are different from you.

Why Do You Need To Do This?

Families that stay in their home countries often don’t understand why the person who lives abroad changes. They don’t understand the need for the change. Playing an identity game online might help your family and friends understand the personal growth that you experience on an international assignment.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Understanding the People's History

One problem that arises when moving abroad is what to learn about another culture. Your home country leadership created the society in which you live. And you interact with it through school, politics, and business.

On the streets in NYC
The system of your host country isn't as transparent. When you study a foreign country, you study all the aspects that the country wants you to see. These values obscure the way the society functions.

If you study the development of the US national character in a foreign country you get a picture of a country which rejected British rule and promoted opportunity for social mobility. But, the class system that was rejected by the founding fathers is still present in the US. The American middle class and the union system that built it isn't transparent from American values. Reading Howard Zinn’s “The People's History of the United States,” you will get a different picture of America and Americans.

Gaining Insight into Your Host Culture

A good way to understand another countries values and institutions is to read PEST analysis. But, all the information that you encounter is important. The stories that are told to you by the locals are just as important as the values of a countries leadership.

Tip: When you feel frustrated or confused by another culture, believe that you are interpreting the situation correctly and don't fall for the trap that you are misunderstood or misunderstanding.