Let me start by saying most expats want to be away. Yes, living abroad has its share of challenges, but they’re worth it due to the adventures we encounter in the process. This desire to be away doesn’t mean that we want to desert all aspects of where we're from; items, snacks and other things redolent of home are very much appreciated! True, our desire to be abroad does not bare you the burden of soothing any feelings of homesickness. But if you are a friend or a family member that does any of the 5 things in this article, you should consider sending care packages to compensate for the perplexity you inadvertently bring by doing any of the following.
- You’re always asking when they’re coming home.
Think back to your last conversation with that friend or family member that is overseas. Did you ask them when they were coming home? Now, think back to the conversation before that. Did you ask them then, also? Think back a little further to other times you’ve spoken to them. Have you asked them those times, too. Do you see where I’m going with this? If you didn’t know before, now you know- nothing irks an expat more than the same people constantly asking when they’ll be coming home. Quite frankly, if you're honest with yourself, wanting them home has nothing to do with your genuine desire to have them back safely. It has more to do with you -your inability to see yourself away for that long, your inability to be away that long, or “home” is where you feel they should be instead of where they’d rather make it. Speak to many expats who have returned home and you’ll notice a common thread. Those that kept asking when they were coming back made the least effort to see them when they actually returned or helped them get re-acclimated to the culture.
If you’re this type of person, you come across as selfish. Flip this around. You want to show your loved one that you aren’t trying to stop them from living their best life. Sending a care package to this person shows you genuinely do care about them and their time abroad. It also makes them feel like you are trying to make their time away more comfortable instead of rushing them back from the fun they are having.
- You’re a negative Nancy.
While expats understand your concern, you have to trust that your loved one has done their homework. This means believing they researched all the positives and the negatives on their country of interest. Bringing things to their attention that they may have overlooked is great. But if all you're bringing is bad news they'll want to hear from you less.
First, identify where this need to share bad news is coming from. Are these genuine concerns THEY would have or are you transplanting your fears on their future? Are the issues you’re bringing up equal or greater to the issues faced in the country they left (or trying to leave)? It is easy to think countries outside of where we live are worse off than our own. This is especially true for people in America. We get so used to our own chaos that we normalize the madness and demonize everyone else’s. As Jenifer Lewis once said, “You sit in sh*t too long it stops smelling.”
Hearing negativity is stressful to a person traveling to (or navigating in) a new country for the first time. If your this type of person, the least you can do is send care packages to make their time abroad more manageable. After all, their main cause of stress while overseas might just be you and not the information you’re trying to scare them with.
- You only talk about yourself.
When was the last time you spoke to your expat friend or family member and heard them share details about themselves? Did they talk about their jobs, new things they’ve experienced, or new challenges they’ve encountered? If it has been a while since you’ve gotten updates, it isn’t because they haven’t experienced anything new. You haven’t gotten updates because you don’t seem interested or spend most of the time talking about yourself. We get that you’re excited to fill us in on what we’re missing. We love hearing about your stories and being filled in. It would feel great, however, if the enthusiasm you have in sharing about yourself matched your concern about how we’re faring abroad. Even if you aren’t happy with their decision to be abroad, it doesn’t mean you can’t ask them about how things are going.
Before you begin to fill them in on information, ask them about themselves. Ask them about work or anything new they might have experienced. Switching things up and talking about them first might help you realize how much you're missing and not so much the other way around. Sending a care package is the perfect touch to let your actions do the talking instead of your mouth for a change.
- Your phone doesn’t work both ways
For some strange reason some expats are expected to be the ones to initiate phone calls home and bare the weight of time conversion. We get it, the different time zones are confusing. You don’t want to make a mistake and call while they’re at work. That shouldn’t, however, stop you from reaching out for fear of catching them at bad moments. Take the extra moments to figure out time differences and call at appropriate times. It may seem like a hassle figuring out. However, if your loved one has been doing all the work to catch you at the right times you can, too.
When you find yourself wondering when your loved one will call you, you should make the effort to call them. Then after you call them, head over to the post office to send them a package. Let them see that they aren’t the only ones trying to keep the lines of communication open.
- Your time only
As mentioned in the previous point, some expats are responsible for calling their loved ones back home. In most cases, they are calling at times that are an inconvenience to themselves, just to be able to keep lines of communication open. This can be very draining because we always end up being the ones waking up early (or staying up late) to be able to communicate. It would be considerate if the burden was shared.
Since your loved one most likely knows your schedule, take time to learn theirs. From there, match up their free times with your schedule. Make time to call them when they’re free, despite the lack of sleep it may cause you. Then, of course, a package would be the icing on the cake.
If you’re an expat overseas, do you struggle with any of these issues? Luckily, I’ve never had this issue with family and friends. I do, however, know plenty of expats that do.
Check out some of the items received below:
My husband’s family saying hello with this favorite snack from Ohio- Grippos!
My nephew saying hello with a letter he wrote to me.
My mom saying hello with this large and heavy package of things I missed from the states!
When’s the last time you said “hello” with a package to someone abroad?
check out the video below for a visual of this post.
Aside from documenting my travels on via blogging and Youtube, I like to get my experiences down in my journal. Check out the one I'm using below.