No emergency contact

Claire was distraught. She came into the session shaken and for several minutes couldn’t even articulate what had happened. After some minutes, I could see some tears come down her cheek. “I did not imagine this could happen. Not in a million years.” She spoke softly while taking some small sips of water. After some breathing exercises to calm down a bit, Claire began to explain what had happened. She had gone to a clinic to get a checkup and the doctor recommended some tests. In one of the tests, she’d be put under and the clinic asked for someone to be her emergency contact. And it hit her. She did not have one.

Claire was an expat in a foreign country. She had left her home country to start a new position in her company. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, to get ahead in the company and at the same time experience a new culture, new environments. She was thrilled. Being single was also a plus since she didn’t have to deal with accommodating a partner’s needs and she could do her own thing. It couldn’t get better than that. Right?

When she realized that in the six months she’d been in her new position she had worked herself to exhaustion, met many people but had almost no real friends and ended up with chronic headaches, that wasn’t at all what she had imagined how her time abroad would be like. And to top it off, she felt a blow in the stomach when she could not think of a single person she felt comfortable enough to write down as an emergency contact.

These issues are a lot more common than you’d think. When we decide to take an international assignment and plan our trip abroad, the logistics and practical issues take a front seat. We rarely have the knowledge of the typical phases of cultural adjustment and how to prepare for potential pitfalls. We rarely articulate our underlying intentions and identify potentially fatal mistakes. We almost never prepare ourselves emotionally and have a strategy to structure our adjustment in the new culture. And then we ask ourselves why sh*t happens...

Claire was my client. She didn't prepare her departure but she very quickly identified she needed help to understand how to deal objectively with the challenges of cultural transition. She searched for help and after our work together she was able to articulate the issue, set her goals and set an action plan to achieve it. She became equipped with the knowledge and awareness of the impact of her decisions in the many different areas of her life.

When you prepare for your international assignment you learn how to navigate more smoothly through culture transitions, have the tools and strategy to increase the chances of a stress-free transition. 

WAS THIS CONTENT RELEVANT? Culture transition coaching can help you prepare for your international assignment or deal with the issues of living abroad. Book your free strategic session at

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