The power of expectations


It’s June and even in Zürich we are enjoying some sunny days.

It’s the beginning of the summer season and it’s what surprised me so much when I arrived here the first time. I was ready for the snow, the sledge and a huge amount of cows, but my vision didn’t include swimsuit and flip-flop.

Five years later I’m enjoying the possibility to swim in the lake at the end of a working day and have people wandering around in the weekend with summer clothes and a portable grill under their arms to eat something outdoor with friends.

June is often full of emotions and activities for expat, because it’s usually when they move to a new country, after the school end.

But are we really aware of what’s going to happen when we take our decision about moving? 

I’m used to hear so many stories from other people about living abroad and I’ve heard every kind of cliché especially as an Italian coming to Switzerland.

So automatically seems like if:

– moving to New York it’s really cool

– going to Switzerland will be cold and boring, but they will cover you with money

– living in Paris it’s just so romantic!

I can go on for pages..

and this would be true If it was not for the fact that:

– not everyone moving to NY is going to live in the Village district, next to Carrie Bradshaw (even if I would love to see her wardrobe)

– in Switzerland, while you have a high salary, they ask you 4,50 chf for an espresso

– in Paris is likely that you will live in a small flat at the 6th floor with no elevator.

But letting go the jokes about cliché, the expectations that you have when you decide to move to another county are fundamental to define how the new life will go.

Seems like something stupid but in the reality when a couple is deciding whether to accept an international assignment or not, there are topics that we share clearly and others that we underestimate or take for granted, while they are not.

How you think about your future life, where you will live, what you will do during the day, how the life of your kids will look like, how will be the relationship with your partner and the kind of friends you will have, are all expectations. And they start influencing you soon as you start visualising them in your mind.

Of course they act even in a positive way, they prepare the ground, push you to move forward and get organised in order to face the challenges ahead.

But what’s going to happen if, once arrived in the new destination, an important part of your life is completely different from what you have expected?

Shock and fatigue.

Just to make an example:

before moving you’re happy and enthusiast for your partner’s new job assignment. You know it will require him to travel and you assume this means “sometimes he will have to travel”. Once arrived the reality is that he will be away 3 days a week. Being alone, at home, in a new country with kids to look after it’s not a child’s game and puts you under a lot of stress, especially if you didn’t expect it and you were not organised for it.

I’m not talking about intentional lying, but about the mess that is going on while you have to take a decision that will change your life: it’s easy to underestimate a lot of things.

So remember to take the time to sit down with your partner and prepare a long list (yes I know I’m a list addicted).

Ask yourself:

how moving is going to effect our lives?

Start from checking your actual life: what you’re doing everyday, the sevices you use to support your family’s life, your routines, your time schedule, your cultural habits and try to understand how they are going to be once you will get to your new destination.

All changes can be difficult but never underestimate the power of a mind prepared to face them

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