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.

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