Shall I Stay or Shall I Go?

There’s a cycle to expat locations. Every six months there’s a flurry of people leaving which is followed shortly afterwards by a wave of new arrivals. This typically happens in line with the school year. A flurry of departures every June and December, with new arrivals peaking in August and January.

The calendar has just ticked over to December so it seems that many people I know are currently surrounded by packing boxes and sporting stressed faces as they battle with the logistics of relocating. My children’s school has a typical yearly turnover of both students and staff of a third. Yes, in any given year one in three students and staff will leave. The Big Missy is losing three of her four closest friends. She has had more close friends move away on 4.5 years than I’ve had during my entire 43 years, but has mastered the art of befriending the newly arrived students in the belief those friendships will last the longest.

Last month The Culture Blend website published an article titled ‘The transition that never ends: the ongoing cycle of expat Stayers, Goers and Newbies‘, which makes the point that every year is the same but entirely different. A very accurate summation of the expat cycle but the important message was that every expat needs to be selfless and reach out to people regardless of their expat label. To be completely honest this is something that I struggle with. I made a very fast friendship with a Texan friend during my first days in Singapore and when she left just over 18 months later I couldn’t really bothered giving friendships my all again. It just seemed like too much work when inevitably we’d end up on the other side of the globe within a year or two. This is something that I’ve only moved beyond in the last year or so and I completely agree with the article in that ALL expats need to be selfless and seek out people. Shielding yourself doesn’t work in the long run. It just makes you lonely.

I’ve been a newby and presume at some stage I will be a goer, but we are currently stayers. The next six months will be quite eventful – a change of housing and the publication of The Book!

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