Over the last few months, we have asked expats to share some insight into how their expatriate experience has differed from their expectations before moving overseas. We call it our Expat Dream vs. Reality Report. There are great insights being offered, and here is a recent submission from an expatriate in Baar, Switzerland:
What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?
Describe how you “dreamed” expat life would be before you moved overseas. Please provide as much detail as possible.
I envisioned expat life to be an experience that would change me and my family. I hoped it would be a change for the better! I thought it would broaden our horizons, and give our children a more global perspective of life. I focused on the idea of it as a big adventure, a way to step out of my comfort zone, to learn more about myself and the world outside the US.
How has your expat experience met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
In many ways, my expat experience has met my expectations. I did not fully take into account how difficult living in a foreign country can be, in terms of the mundane aspects of life. (First, we lived in London, which was not terribly different from the US. At least we knew the language fairly well!) Moving to Switzerland has been difficult for two reasons. First is not knowing the language, and the inscrutability of the Swiss German spoken language. Second is the challenge of navigating the community, learning the rules and societal expectations (of which there are many).
How has your expat experience NOT met the expectations you dreamed about before you moved abroad?
The extremely high costs of goods and services are not enjoyable to live with. Also, although in the US we may take this to an extreme, I do miss the variety of goods available, as well as the convenience, say, of a Target or Walmart. Thus, I have adjusted my expectations, recognizing that there are plenty of ‘things’ I can live without. I thought I would travel within Europe more. The reality is that we as a family get caught up in our daily lives, and tend not to take as many trips as we’d dreamed about.