The past two months have seen a little less activity on this blog than I was planning on. The reason: I am soon going to be an expat myself! I have found a job as postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southern Denmark. So from the 1st of September I am moving to Denmark and am becoming a self-initiated expatriate (SIE). Hence the new sub-category on my blog: Practice what you preach!
When talking about expats, it is important to define who you are talking about. One of the distinctions is between expats that are sent by their company and those who go of their own accord to work abroad for a while. There has been much research into the latter category in the past few years. The definition I used in my PhD research encompasses both categories: “An expatriate is anyone who works outside of his or her home country, with a planned return to that or a third country” (1). I chose this definition because in my research I focused on how to facilitate the adjustment process once abroad – and that is something both a company-sent expat and an SIE has to deal with.
Now I am becoming an expat myself. While I am very excited about my new job, the amount of things that you need to arrange is a bit daunting. Let alone moving to a country of which you don’t speak the language (although still within the EU), and saying goodbye for an undefined period to your home country and your friends and family. Some of these things are extra challenging for SIEs because they are more likely not to get full relocation support as compared to company-sent expatriates. It is important that organisations with a more and more internationally diverse workforce realise that they can do much do support their international employees both before and after arrival. Happily my university helped me find an apartment in Denmark because that is not easy to manage from abroad. The next thing is to arrange the move and figure everything out with regard to insurances, pension etc. So let me get back to it!
(1) Cascio, W. F. (2006). Global performance management systems. In G. K. Stahl & I. Bjorkman (Eds.), Handbook of Research in International Human Resource Management (pp. 176-196). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.