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.
I talk with housewives, engineers, doctors and students. I hear about their lives, traditions, customs and perspectives on issues such as sexism, marriage/divorce, family, travel and school.
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.
Supportive, genuine friendships in a different country can enrich our lives immeasurably and provide us with so much that we often take for-granted in our home countries but feel the intense lack of when settling into another culture.
Last week I went to a new restaurant. On my way home, I stopped and got some fresh French baked goods. Later the same day, I got an email about a brand new international standard salon that I should check out.