Mindful Expat Episode 15: A Compassionate, Growth-Oriented Approach to Cultural Adjustment (With Guest: Sundae Schneider-Bean, MA)

Today’s Mindful Expat Guest is Sundae Schneider-Bean!

Sundae is an intercultural strategist and solution-oriented coach, and – as she says – she’s on a mission to help expats make the most of their lives abroad!

Sundae is originally from the United States, from the state of North Dakota. Even before meeting her Swiss husband and launching on a series of international moves with him, Sundae had a thirst for international adventure. In her early 20s, she traveled extensively throughout south-east Asia, where she met her husband in Vietnam – which then led her to move to Switzerland. After a number of years together there, they then moved to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where they stayed until in 2016 when the political situation and lack of security in the region made it no longer safe to remain – at which point they relocated to South Africa, where they now live with their 2 children.

Sundae has her masters in Intercultural Communications and is a certified coach with the International Coaching Federation. Her experiences of living and working across cultures, being in an intercultural marriage, and raising bicultural TCK children makes her no stranger to the challenges – and opportunities – of expat life. As an intercultural strategies and coach, she works to help other expats navigate these challenges and learn to thrive in their lives abroad and make the most of their experiences.

What you’ll hear in this episode:

• Debunking some common myths about the cultural adjustment process and how believing these myths can be detrimental to our wellbeing and adjustment as we adapt to a new culture.
• How there is no one “right” way to move through the process of cultural adjustment and some of the factors (personal and contextual) that can impact what this process looks like.
• How our expectations can shape our experience — for example, by making us either more or less patient with ourselves as we move through the cultural adaptation process.
• How “culture shock” isn’t necessarily a bad thing and how we can use it as an opportunity to increase our own self-awareness.
• The importance of self-acceptance and self-compassion (rather than being harsh and critical toward ourselves) as we adjust to a new culture. Continue reading

Mindful Expat Episode 14: Self-Compassion, the Two Arrows, & Learning to Surf

What you’ll hear in this episode:

• How you can create a pause between your initial experience of an emotion and your reaction to it, and how doing so will allow you to cultivate more self-compassion and feel less out of control in your life.
• About the differences between pain and suffering — and how our responses to our own internal experiences determine the extent to which we suffer.
• The Buddhist metaphor of the two arrows, which illustrates this difference between pain and suffering.
• How all of this might apply to the experience of struggling with adaptation to a new country/culture. Continue reading

Mindful Expat Episode 5: Introduction to Culture Shock & the Expat (Emotional) Rollercoaster

What you’ll hear in this episode:
• A definition of “culture shock” and some of the ways it can manifest differently for different people.
• Some theoretical models of cultural adjustment, including various phases of adjustment that people may experience as they adapt to a new culture (and some of the limitations of these models).
• Some of the challenges (and opportunities) for couples and families as they move through various phases of the cultural adjustment process together.
• The importance of being patient with yourself as you adapt to a new culture and recognize that it’s a work in progress and whatever you’re feeling in one phase is temporary.
• Some of the particular challenges for couples and families as they’re adjusting to a new culture. Continue reading

Cultural Adjustment, Part 5: Wrapping Up & Food for Thought

adventureIn the last several posts, we’ve been discussing various aspects of the cultural adjustment process that many expats may experience when moving abroad.

We’ve discussed the experience of culture shock, reviewed some models of cultural adjustment, looked into the experience of repatriation (moving back home after time abroad), and covered some topics specific to moving abroad with kids or teens.

While these articles have only begun to scratch the surface, I hope that they have given you some things to think about as you prepare for your international move or as you try to make sense of your current experiences living abroad.

I’m sure this won’t be the last blog post on cultural adjustment, but it is the final post in this Cultural Adjustment Series, and I wanted to leave you with a few take-home points.
Continue reading

Cultural Adjustment, Part 4: Moving Abroad with Kids & Teens

teenIn the last several posts in this Cultural Adjustment Series, we’ve looked at the phenomenon of culture shock, the phases of cultural adjustment, and the experience of moving home after a time abroad.

In today’s post, we’ll take a closer look at how culture shock and cultural adjustment have a unique impact on kids and teens and how you can help your child prepare for or adapt to an international move.

Culture Shock for Kids & Teens

While some of the things we’ve discussed in the previous articles may also apply to kids and teens who move abroad (such as the various manifestations of stress) their experiences can also be quite different from those of their parents.

For one thing, adults are generally in charge of making the decision to move abroad. Even if they are under pressure or have mixed feelings about it, most of the time, they can ultimately say yes or no to an opportunity. Continue reading