Living the Dream

In Member Post on March 25, 2018 by joshsandoz

Contributed by Jennifer Patterson, MA, LMFT

Patterson BlogYou’ve up and done it! You’ve moved away from your home country to shake things up, follow your dream job, pursue a romance, have a great adventure, and see the world. It’s an awesome, awe-inspiring, bold move, and quite unfathomable to some people. As you settle into your new home and start nesting, it’s exciting to realize that you aren’t on vacation, and you don’t have to leave. You meet the days’ challenges of buying groceries and finding your favorite treats with enthusiasm. You start language classes with loads of energy and come up with a study schedule. Everything is new, and exciting, and this is exactly how you wanted it to be!

And then after the month or two, you might find yourself a little cranky. Maybe you feel a little more frustrated, you’re annoyed with yourself because you aren’t picking up the language as quickly as you think you should (more on that later). Going to the butcher shop and the market down the street feels hard and exhausting so you just order a pizza – online, so you don’t have to talk to anyone. You’re tired of not understanding how things work… you finally figured out that you have to take a ticket when you go somewhere that involves a line and waiting, but how do you know if it’s the right ticket?!?!?! Read More »

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Complex identities in a changing world of new divide: Globalism vs. Nationalism

In Member Post on January 13, 2018 by joshsandoz

Daniela's BlogContributed by Daniela Tomer, MA

Identity formation, is the development of the distinct personality of an individual, it includes a sense of continuity, a sense of uniqueness from others, and a sense of affiliation. From research we learned that it is complicated enough to get a comfortable sense of who you are even if you live in one place, but what if you are exposed to several cultures and influences?

Cultural identity is the identity or feeling of belonging to a group. It is part of a person’s self-conception and self-perception and is related to nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, generation, locality or any kind of social group that has its own distinct culture. Many of us thought that if we keep globalizing our economy and liberalizing our politics we would create an ideal world. The political debates and changes around the world are telling us that the current divide is shifting to Global vs. National, or Global  vs. Local. We are experiencing growing divisiveness. Read More »

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The Advantages of Being Bilingual

In Guest Post on December 24, 2017 by joshsandoz

Contributed by Clara Blázquez Booth

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”
– Charlemagne

iStock_girlglobe000016956101XSmallIf you asked people whether they would like to be bilingual I think most people would say “Yes” without even thinking about it. Bilingualism is now generally considered something positive and highly desirable but this has not always been the case.

Until relatively recently it was thought bilingualism could be detrimental to a child´s learning and general development and there are still many myths surrounding the subject. Some people might think “how confusing for a child to have to learn two languages, poor thing!”

However, recent studies have painted quite a different picture. It has become obvious that a child can cope with two (or more) languages and even adults can learn and use a language other than their mother tongue, although, unfortunately, as we all know, this entails a bit more effort. As we also know, we live in a globalised world, where speaking more than one language is becoming ever more necessary, with thousands of people studying languages, high mobility rates within countries and many mixed couples bringing up their children bilingually. It may well be that in the future being bilingual will be a common occurrence, which hopefully will lead to a better understanding of the issue. Read More »

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Awareness and the question of change through therapy

In Member Post on November 22, 2017 by joshsandoz

Contributed by Steve Vinay Gunther

Gestalt Tao EnsoPeople generally seek therapy is as a result of some kind of disatisfaction with their life. Something is uncomfortable, unworkable, painful or stuck, and they come wanting help. International relocation often creates dislocation internally, and also in relationship. Lives that were previously relatively stable become disrupted, and cracks in marriages often get bigger in the process. Even if incomes increase and there is more help available, unfinished business and resentments tend to come to the surface.

There are many different approaches in therapy to providing help for people. Some are goal oriented, and involve an analysis of ‘what is the problem, what is the solution, and how can we get there’. This seems straightforward, and can indeed be of value.

The approach I find useful takes a different tack. Gestalt therapy is based on is based on the Western philosophy of Existentialism, and the Eastern philosophy of Taoism. In this orientiation you dont get to the goal of change by pointing directly at it. This is because often the reason you are stuck is not through lack of effort of trying. Think pf diets – many people try hard to lose weight – and it seems very straightfoward: eat less, exercise more. But people can get caught in cycles of ‘trying to change’: making progress, then slipping back, ‘despite oneself’. In that sense, good intentions and powerful techniques are not enough. Read More »

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My Deepest TCK Fear

In Guest Post on November 6, 2017 by joshsandoz

Contributed by Lauren Wells

Lauren Wells 1I first heard the term Third Culture Kid or “TCK” in high school, and simultaneously found out that I was one. While many reject being labeled, I personally found much solace in finally feeling like something explained the rootlessness and lack of belonging that I felt. I have always worn the TCK label proudly and have, for better or for worse, lived up to the typical TCK expectations- moving often, having difficulty developing deep friendships, feeling restless, not wanting to settle down. However, three years ago, my husband and I moved to Portland, Oregon. This three year stretch has been the longest period of time that I have lived in one place since elementary school, and the scariest part? We have no intention of leaving anytime soon.

I write a lot about TCKs and settling. I have said that, “The healthy TCK realizes that they have a need for change and knows that they are more comfortable with the adapting process than with the settled life. However, they have learned how to control the need for change instead of letting it control them. They are willing to be somewhat uncomfortable so that they can live a settled life in the necessary areas.” Read More »

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SEX and RELATIONSHIPS

In Member Post on October 17, 2017 by joshsandoz

Contributed by Eileen Edwards

Sex is a hot topic all around the world. Ideas about it vary from culture to culture and this in itself can cause confusion and problems. There are particular difficulties for those who live between cultures, either because they live in a country not of their birth, or because their family values differ from those of the society around them which can be a cause of unhappiness and conflict.

One problem which can exist in all cultures is an embarrassment about sexual matters and resulting difficulty in discussing them. Misinformation is often all too easily available with factual information less so.

My aim as a psychologist and therapist with a specialist qualification in psycho-sexual problems is to provide factual information. Read More »

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Rituals of Separation: A South Korean Memoir of Identity and Belonging

In Guest Post on September 8, 2017 by joshsandoz

Contributed by Liz Rice

I was nine months old when my American family landed in Seoul, South Korea, in 1966, the youngest of four children. My parents were social justice oriented people, called to divided places. They moved to South Korea as missionaries to try and help a country that had lived through a devastating century.

liz rice youthI was too young when we arrived to go through culture shock or deal with acculturation as my parents did. I was too young to know what it meant that we were leaving the country of my passport behind. Going to Korea is something I don’t remember. I woke up to life there. And over sixteen years, Korea, its history and its ways, became my reference point.

I learned to speak Korean as I learned to speak English. For the first four years of my life, as my parents were attending language school and beginning to work, I was in the daily care of Koreans, soaking up language, culture and the customs of one of the most Confucius and homogenous cultures in the world. I went to Korean nursery school, soaking up even more. Up until the age of five, when we first visited the US, Korea was all I remembered and knew. My family was American, but the US was a foreign country. For the next sixteen years, Korea was, simply, home.

And if the story ended there, it would be a story of a complicated and rich childhood in a place of contrasts and contradiction, in a humble, ancient nation far away from the home of my ancestors. A story of a girl, part Korean, part American, and always something in between. But something happened after my family left Korea. Read More »

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Reverse Culture Shock: What Is It + How Do You Cope?

In Member Post on July 28, 2017 by joshsandoz

Contributed by Kim Roberts

If you’ve spent time living abroad, you have probably experienced some level of culture shock. Life as an expat expands your horizons, and also exposes you to new ways of being in the world. Culture shock is a well-known phenomenon that occurs when our existing set of beliefs clash with the current environment. It takes time to adapt to strange customs. But not as readily discussed is the trauma many experience after coming home—reverse culture shock. Returning to our country of origin can be more challenging than leaving home in the first place.

As an American, I experienced this acutely on my return from my first trip to India. For some inexplicable reason, I chose to visit a friend in Arkansas just a few days after I landed.

I remember looking into the eyes of one shop clerk, then watching his mouth move, trying with all my focus to hear what he was saying. My ears had become accustomed to South Indian pidgin English, and his Southern country drawl was absolutely incomprehensible.

This is a superficial version, but many features of reverse culture shock are far more deep rooted. Read More »

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“If I can eat, I feel OK.” 「食べられれば大丈夫」

In Member Post on April 18, 2017 by joshsandoz

Contributed by Cécile Buckenmeyer, Jungian Psychotherapist

nature-fashion-person-womanThe interview

On a September morning, in suburban Manchester, I meet Yoko and her two-year old son. We sit in a conservatory furnished with plain, Ikea-style table and chairs; I accept her offer of a glass of water. I came to interview Yoko about her experience of moving to the UK. She arrived four months ago. “My husband was sent to the UK for two or three years”, she says. When I ask her what helps her cope with this transition, she explains that food is very important for her and that, as long as the food is OK, she feels that she can live here: “If I can eat, I feel OK”.

A month later, at our second interview, we discuss what helps Yoko feel comfortable in the UK. She replies that she switches the Japanese TV on in the morning and listens to the news: “I don’t fall behind; I keep up with the Japanese news.” She also uses Facebook, which gives her a sense that she is in touch with friends. She does these things mindlessly, knowing that “they don’t serve any purpose for her life in the UK”.

When, two months later, I go for a third and last interview, Yoko is more confident speaking English and asking questions. She has been able to have short conversations with her daughter’s teacher. As we say goodbye, Yoko tells me that she has appreciated my visits: “I don’t have contact with people from outside the house. So, one week is long. I find myself waiting for Saturday when I can be with my children and husband. It was good to have a bit of change in my daily life. ” Read More »

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Endings are part of the path we walk……..

In Member Post on March 20, 2017 by joshsandoz

Contributed by Dawn Purver, Diploma Psychotherapeutic Counselling

Dawn Purver OneIn the early hours of a morning I waved goodbye, once again, to my two eldest sons; one journeying back to UK, and the other beginning his own adventure in Bolivia.

As the vehicle disappeared into the darkness, my heart broke and the tears flowed once again as I embraced the feelings of separation, and acknowledged those all too familiar feelings of loss of being a family together.

As cross cultural workers; endings, separation and loss are a frequent part of choosing this path.  The pain that accompanies saying goodbye is often fresh and frequent.  We learn to negotiate transition and letting go, perhaps more than in many other types of work.

Occasionally we can plan our goodbyes, and sometimes we cannot.  Easier to prepare for an airport goodbye, but difficult with a friend dying from aids in Africa, and impossible for a loved one gunned down in Syria. Read More »

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