Expat mindset
Expat Mindset

Expat Mindset

Expat thinking wasn’t a norm to me when I first went on an assignment overseas. I didn’t know much about the expats then and I also never even considered myself as an expat. Traveling the world appealed to me and I willingly and happily embarked on this journey of following my husband to different countries for work assignments. I became a trailing wife without even realizing what it would require of me and how it would transform me.

Many would see an expat lifestyle as glamorous and exhilarating, and the people, who can afford it, as lucky. All of this is true, but everything has the other side which can’t be neglected. Both are parts of expat life and both are true and affect us in many ways, changing us and shaping our personalities, sometimes breaking or hurting ruthlessly, and in many cases teaching and healing our wounds.

So, what is it in the expat life style which is not known or evident when we accept our assignments to travel to a foreign country? Besides knowing that it will be time away from home, possibly for two or more years, I’d encourage a new expat to also pack these three things into your mindset suitcase: resilience, compassion, and forgiveness.


To me, it is almost synonymous with radiance. Resilience is something that I always can fall back to just for the sake of being stubborn. “I can do this” plays like a mantra in my head, and I just take one step at a time, and live one day at a time. I love to notice that radiant spot in a person, which shines her inner beauty, equals resilience. Being in a foreign environment you’ve got to be resilient. This is an internal state of strength, which stems from a connection to yourself, choosing to be content with yourself, and trusting your own judgment. You’ve got to recognize, that you are in a foreign country and nothing is going to change here for you to make your life the same as it used to be at home. You’ve got to adapt your attitude, choices, beliefs to be able to live here and do your work, and not just do your work, but thrive and enjoy your life.


Some tourists like to complain and judge foreign environments because new situations are too challenging to cope with. Or simply put, those tourists do not feel ok facing the change so they resort to being grumpy. Expats are different. They create their environment for themselves, where they manage to feel safe and comfortable. The internal feeling of contentment allows the expats to express compassion and understanding toward others.


Expats know how to forgive. They forgive themselves first. You’ve got to do that so you can thrive. Nobody is perfect and we don’t often make the choices that bring us the immediate desirable results, but we always can forgive ourselves, intend for a better day tomorrow, and do the next right thing.

Expats know how to forgive others as well. Life overseas is challenging enough and we’ve got to rely on our resourcefulness. So, if somebody fails us, we learn the lesson and seek for a different angle and perspective. Sometimes, being alone and far away from everybody else helps to stay focused and alert to see a new way to follow.


The expat mindset is something we learn through error and practice. It helps to be educated and informed about the places we go to spend part of our lives and the internal feeling of resilience, compassion, and forgiveness is something we can always cultivate and hone making it a habit easily performed.

What quality of your character did you have to alter to be able to adjust to the foreign environment? Would you advise world travelers to develop their ability to be resilient, compassionate and forgiving? Please, leave me a comment below.

Remember, life is a journey of joy! Embrace it.

Much love.


Coaching for world travelers.


  • Robert


    I like the points you made but I would like to see another added to your list.
    Acceptance is another mindset that needs to be fostered. When a family is posted to another country, along with accepting the assignment they must also accept that things will be different. If this is accomplished, then resilience and adaptability become much easier. Do some research work before you embark on your new adventure. Learning about your destination will help ease frustrations, fears, and phobias. The books and travel ads will not really tell you what it is like to walk on the streets so try to find someone who has been there for a first-hand point of view.

    Thank you.

    • Lena South

      Robert, thank you for your comment. I agree acceptance helps us avoid many frustrations in our adjustment to foreign cultures. Oftentimes we cannot even explain many peculiarities of people’s ways of life. Acceptance allows us to not dwell on “why” stuff, focus on our lives, and move on.

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