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.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

• We mentioned the U-Curve and W-Curve Models of cultural adjustment. To learn more about these models, you can check out this blog post or listen back to Episode 5 (but, as we discuss, please keep in mind that many people’s experiences do not conform to these models!).
• Sundae mentioned sleep expert Christine Hanson. To learn more about her and her work, you can check out her website, www.sleeplikeaboss.com.
• Sundae mentioned the website Culture Connector, where you can take a free assessment to learn more about your own cultural preferences as well as the cultural preferences of the country in which you’re living. As we discuss, this can be a great way to become aware of some potential differences so that when you run into them in your daily life, you can understand the source of the disconnect.
• Sundae recommended two Facebook groups as helpful resources: I Am a Triangle (mentioned back in Episode 10 with the founder of this group, Naomi Hattaway) and Grumpy Expat.
• Sundae also recommended two blogs focused on expat issues: Kirsty Rice’s blog, 4 Kids, 20 Suitcases, & a Beagle, and Jerry Jones’ blog The Culture Blend.

More about Sundae and how to follow up with her:

To learn more about Sundae, you can visit her website, www.sundaebean.com. There you will find information about her coaching and consulting services as well a blog with great articles on a number of helpful topics — from couples issues to resiliency to expat vacations!

On the website, you’ll also find Sundae’s podcast, Expat Happy Hour, where she covers topics related to expat adjustment and offers practical solutions to help you more effectively navigate the cultural adaptation process.

You can also find Sundae on Facebook or Twitter, and you can email her directly at sundae@sundaebean.com.

Stay in Touch!

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