Imagine that you are living in a foreign country and your primary relationship has collapsed. You are heading for separation or divorce and desperately need support - both practical and emotional - but your family and friends are mostly far away.
Divorce essentially implies a loss of home. When that happens, the consequences for expats are much more dramatic.
Maybe I was born hard wired a different way or without some kind of true American career drive, but the idea of immediately embarking on a lifelong journey of working 9-5, dressing business casual, making my way up in a company, slowly becoming successful, and basically getting old while doing so makes me die a little bit inside.
Expat divorce (the term I will use to describe the breakdown of a primary relationship while on an expat assignment) bears many similarities to non-expat divorce. However, there are unique features that make it even more challenging.
The best because it's made me confident, strong and open-minded, and it's been so much fun. The hardest because I'm living my dream life, only my team back home can't be a part of the adventure for more than a few weeks a year. One thing for sure about moving away is that it will change you. Forever.
You notice the sweet smell of dragon fruit blossoms as you take a stroll down the street to fill up your water bottles (you'll get sick if you drink the tap water). You aren't sure what the latest fall fashions are, and you don't really care.
At age 17 I left my home country, Hungary and moved to the US. After nearly 9 years of living, studying and working here, yet again, I took another courageous step and I left. Since then I've only been back as a visitor as part of my on-going travels.
What children in places like Afghanistan show us is so different from what we as adults show them. When they are exposed to media they hear about the political shortcomings and violence. When they see themselves, the reflection is refugee camps with sad faces and poverty.
Living on an island in the Caribbean, surrounded by jungle-covered hills and picture-perfect beaches sounds like a dream. Wake up, enjoy a cup of coffee and fresh fruit picked from the trees around your house -- But this might not really be the dream life for everyone.
Around the holiday season, a common exchange between people living abroad ends in, "I'm going back 'home' for the holidays this year." Ironically, many of us who say this have been living in our new adopted countries for more years than our original ones. The notion of "home" remains fluid.
You've always imagined, even as a teenager, that most of your days would be spent commuting from the aforementioned suburban paradise to your workplace, so that you could just to come back home and do it all over again the next day.
With that in mind, and in celebration of the funny and awkward, the following are my top observations and surprises about living in Germany.
Firstly, and crucially, assess whether the move is right for you. An international move can be exciting but daunting. Moving from family and friends, upsetting your immediate family life -- you might feel guilty and worry about missing out. This is natural.