Managing Expectations as an Expat

October 2023

It is very easy to dive into expat life with high expectations of your new host country and job. Unseasoned expats can be hit with a big dose of reality when the initial excitement starts to wear off, and responsibilities start to stack up.

Managing expectations while on a global mobility programme involves understanding that things may not always go according to plan. It's essential to be flexible and adaptable, as new and unfamiliar challenges present themselves along the way. 

Failing to manage your expectations can set you up for failure. It can quickly lead to a vicious cycle of constant comparisons between what you had at home and what you’re missing now. This is completely unproductive and can put a negative outlook on any new and exciting experiences that you could be enjoying.
When it comes to your new job, managing your expectations is crucial. It is very common for expats on assignments to step into a higher role with additional responsibilities, leading to higher expectations and usually a bigger workload. Before your move, speak to your boss about what you can expect and if there is anything specific that you should spend time on preparing for your role. 
If you have already started the job and it is not meeting your expectations, be honest with yourself and the expectations you have set. Are they realistic and achievable? If you feel they are, speak to your managers about how things usually work. If there are other expats in your new team, ask them about their own experiences joining and how they managed their roles. 
The adjustment period for new expats can be really difficult, and you might find yourself more disappointed with the outcome than you had anticipated. But all good things take time, try and stay open to new experiences as you adjust. Don’t let your expectations stop you from enjoying your experience abroad. Shifting your perspective can change everything. 
Chances are that other expats who have come before you have faced similar experiences with their own expectations set before embarking on life abroad. Speaking to expats who have overcome these challenges can help you accept that expat life can be messy. Their experiences can also help you navigate your own expat challenges.
Maybe the culture is different than you expected, or maybe the new city is not as it seemed online. No matter how much you prepare, your new home is still going to feel uneasy at first. Facing a completely new culture, work environment and social structure will be challenging, but take your time with it. Your preparation and research will help you stay confident with your choice when the inevitable feelings of culture shock creep up on you. 
You might have more time alone in the first couple of months of your new assignment. Make some time for yourself to practice self-care. Moving your body and getting out for some fresh air every day is proven to boost low moods. Why not join a local gym or try a new workout class to get yourself moving? Looking after your wellbeing also requires some downtime. Make sure you get enough regular quality sleep and spend time on things that bring you joy.  
Having the right health care plan in place will ensure your protected no matter where your global mobility program is. With Allianz Care, we offer international health insurance designed for professionals working abroad.