It’s not a big surprise that every new expat needs time to adapt to their new location, tothe new culture and to a different life. Many websites, blogs and books have been written about the ways in which you can do that best, easiest, most comfortable and with a lot of fun and pleasure.
At the same time a lot has been written about the pitfalls an expat may face such as feelings of loneliness, disappointment over the new home country, job or family life as expats. And, although it may be more difficult to find a quick fix for those issues, a solution is available in most cases.
Less known and most certainly less written about is the category problems which Expats feel so embarrassed about they do not really want to talk about it. Definitely not with their boss and colleagues because they don’t know what the consequences will be. But also rather not to new friends or with family and friends at home because they do not want to get them worried.
The last category of problems is the most difficult one. The problems described below can become so enormous that it starts affecting the Expats (mental or physical) health and often causes the Expat to return to his/her home country prematurely or move on in order not to have to face these problems.
Mountains of Paperwork
The Dutch are renowned for their bureaucracy and their enormous amount of paperwork that needs to be filled out. On top of thatmany institutions such as the tax office, banks or health insurance companies only have their information in Dutch and/or speak very limited English.
And although most Expats will receive assistance from their HR department and a relocation bureau, this service is usually limited to 6 months to a year. After the initial period expats are left to their own devices.
Then, after a while, a problem arises. Most people tend to put of the thing they don’t like doing or that are difficult and thus a lot of expats shove their paperwork in a desk drawer only to find out later they have missed a lot of important information. One of my clients has thus spent a lot more money over the past fewyears as she should have…she only paid upon visits from the bailiffs!
Problems with substance abuse
Holland is one of the most liberal countries in the world when it comes down to the use of drugs and alcohol. At the same time, however, we have a fairly strict policy on drunken driving and being caught by the police not only gets a person into trouble with the criminal law but also with the administrative law enforcement.
The implications of the latter ore very often misjudged, even by Dutch people themselves. Once a person has been sentenced to participate in the Alcohol Slot Program (ASP) he or she is not allowed to drive a car without an alcohol slot, has to attend motivational classes and has a driver license with a special code on it.
The problems for expats who need their car to pick up their boss or drive clients around are obvious. Once a company finds out you have todrive with an alcohol slot the risk of being fired is high and the risk of not finding another job after an attending the ASP even higher. In a future blog post I will explain more about the ASP.
Bodies & Minds that stop working the way we are used to
The Netherlands have an excellent health system and if people get so ill they never are able to work again they will be taken care of by the government. Dutch society also recognizes that people become ill and there is almost no judgment if one does.
However, that is different in other societies and cultures. For some people getting an illness such as depression, anxiety attacks or even Parkison’s Disease is a sign of weakness and incompetence. The result is often that people ignore their disease until it becomes unbearable or take such a lot of (bad) medication that the side effects are more dangerous than the disease itself.
The result of being physically or mentally unfit and not being treated properly is a negative spiral. People become even more depressed and get different diseases. Having to give up the Expat assignment and go home is often not an option or is not a desired outcome.
All of these problems above need to be solved. It is of utmost importance to identify and tackle them as soon as possible. And even though it may be hard to talk about and
find support fast…it will be the only way out of a messy situation.
Now I am curious. Have you encountered one of these 3 problems yourself? How did you solve them? Do you know anyone in a similar situation? Were you able to share your experiences?
I would appreciate it if you would share them with me and the other Expats in my community; please write down your experiences in the comment field below.. You can do it anonymously…of course!
And while you’re here please read the other experiences, questions and answers and reply to them with your own ideas, experiences and/or questions. I would like this to be a platform where expats may benefit from each other’s experiences! And if you’re not an expat but have some advice for expats…feel free to give that too!
And please share this article by clicking the one or more share buttons below. It may benefit others to find out they are not the only ones struggling with these issues!