I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: expats have unrealistic expectations, and they need to get over them

someplace nice

“It was a hard adjustment period for me. My husband loved it from the start. Women were all over him, bringing him coffee from the cafe while I was at work, cooking dinners for him if I had to work late, catering to him like he was some sort of god. Within 6 months here I found him cheating with another woman.  I left him, sadly.  My expat experience has turned me into an insecure angry beaten person who was once a winner. Now I’m so weak. Feels like I’ve aged 10 years in three. It’s been a rough life here!”

A common situation in Japan is when a gaijin couple move here and discover that one half of the couple (usually the male) adapts a whole lot better than the other half.  But guess what?  The above experience didn’t take place in Japan …. it took place in New Zealand.  And it’s not an uncommon one, either.

This leads me to believe two things: that men have it easier everywhere in the world, and that most (Western) emigrants have hopelessly unrealistic expectations of what their new life will bring them.  A bit like Paris syndrome, I suppose.

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5 comments on “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: expats have unrealistic expectations, and they need to get over them

  1. Jeni says:

    You know, I have been through culture shock in Europe and Japan and I know it has sometimes made me an unpleasant person because it was stressful but I never had a break with reality over it. I don’t understand how a visitor to a foreign country for a few days could have it so bad that they just snap. I could understand if one was going from a first world country to a third world one where there was violence and extreme poverty and whatnot but going from Japan to France even though things are different, I just don’t get it.

  2. Jeni says:

    On the other hand, I do understand the stress of having to adjust to life long term in place that is very different and hard to understand. But for a few days I don’t see why some people can’t just roll with the punches.

  3. Miko says:

    On the contrary, I think that when it’s just “for a few days,” people have much higher expectations of their overseas experience. When you are moving to a foreign country for the long haul, at least you can give yourself time to get used to the strange foreign ways, and you don’t expect every single day to be perfect. But when you are forking out several thousand dollars to be whisked around several different countries in one week, naturally you expect to get the whole Overseas Experience in one perfect package. And Japanese travel agencies tend to sell an overly rose-tinted view of life in foreign countries, especially that of NZ, I’m sorry to say. Fortunately most Japanese tourists are still naive enough to be impressed by the mere fact that they can travel around the world and see gaijins in their natural habitats, so they tend not to complain too much. Personally, I think they get ripped off badly.

  4. Jeni says:

    I guess I just never expect a place I visit to be perfect. Sure, I have found some small differences a hassle and not to my liking–enough so that I might not choose to stay long term in those places but when I am visiting they aren’t a huge deal even if I complain because I know that I will be leaving soon. Those same things might bring me down more if I knew I had to get used to them long term. Anyway, the problem is unrealistic expectations and that’s where many Japanese get into trouble.

  5. Miko says:

    Well, I kind of like their way of thinking, because it brought us HTB.

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