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Being an Expat in Asia

22 February 2013

As I arrived in Thailand only two weeks ago, I know how it feels to be an outsider. You are moving for a short or long time in a new country and you have to give up all your friends, family, habits and bearings from your old life. When you arrive, you have to adapt yourself right away to a new culture with completely different customs and rituals. Many people, as you can find by yourself when you talk to expatriates, say that they had a need to discover what was overseas. They didn’t want to stay in their comfort zone. They couldn’t be more disoriented than in Asia.

The language, the food, the social codes are different. Many expatriates are expecting that being overseas is going to be the same life as before but with more travels or they idealize too much what their life will be. Most of the time, they are disappointed because they were imagining something totally different. Conversely, in countries where the fascination is less present, the integration is easier because they are surprised about what they see and discover over there.

The biggest barrier expats meet is the language barrier, especially in Asia. In fact, Mandarin, Vietnamese and other Asian languages are impossible for an Occidental person to understand, as we don’t learn that in schools. Even simple words as “Hello” or “Please” are really hard to pronounce and foreigners ‘ willing to be a part of the host country is put through the mill. Future expatriates should try to learn the language of the country they will go in order to be integrated more easily. Transportation and finding accommodation can also be difficult. Many people, before being an expatriate, think that they have better infrastructures (eg: hospital, …) than in their host country. But most of the time, the reality is much more different than what they expected. In South Korea and Thailand for example, hospitals proposed better services.

Luckily, you can always find people from your home country via your own company, on the Internet or at networking events. Many expatriates are willing to meet other people from their country in order to stay linked.

HSBC recently published their Expat Explorer Survey, where you can compare many countries based on several criteria as economics (eg: income), experience (finding accommodation) and raising children abroad. You can also find tips and advice from expatriates who are actually living in Asia and contact them.

One of the advantages of being an expatriate is that the gross salary is between 10 and 12% higher than in their country of origin. Most of the time, they don’t know how to manage their money in a country where they don’t understand the financial system. That’s where Broadgate Advisory can help. Broadgate Advisory is an investment advisory firm licensed by the Thai SEC. It is the only expat focused, licensed and regulated investment advisory in Thailand.

The company is composed mainly of qualified expatriates from around the world that make us understand more than any company how expatriates feel and how they can be assisted. We can help by finding for the best possible solution and help you achieve your goals, giving you the opportunity to focus on discovering more the country you’re in. Thanks to our several qualified and experienced advisors from the board, we have the most experienced people by our side.

So if you’re already an expatriate or you are an expat-to-be, try to enjoy as much as you can, because not everyone has the opportunity to do it. You will discover some things about yourself that you never thought you would before.

“It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, ‘As pretty as an airport.”
Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

 

Juliette Vidailhet
Marketing Support Officer
Juliette@broadgatefinancial.com

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of The Broadgate Financial Group.