It is a truth universally acknowledged that many expats find it difficult to break out of the so called ‘expat-bubble’. Expats themselves highlight European countries such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland as very difficult to make local friends. Also, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Japan are often found in the top five. And yet this contact with locals can have many benefits, for example because you can learn a lot about the culture of the host country you live in.
How can you make friends with host country nationals?
This is the focus of my forthcoming book Breaking out of the expat bubble with Routledge, hopefully to come out in 2024. This book is meant for expats and HR managers, and contains many practical recommendations on how to go about to create more connections between expats and host country nationals, both at work and in private life. As well as my own past research, it is based on 72 new interviews with expats around the world, about how they made friends abroad, which has led to a new model that shows how this process actually works.
The internationalised workplace
Many workplaces are becoming more and more international. Many countries, for example Denmark, are facing a tight labour market where organisations increasingly look abroad to recruit their new employees. These foreign employees need to be integrated into the local workplace as well as society as a whole. And not every country is easy to settle in and find friends, as expats themselves indicate in the annual InterNations survey. My work on expatriate-HCN interactions will help organisations as well as expatriates themselves to make these essential connections, so that they are able to benefit from them, and make their stay abroad a success.
For this project I received the Carlsberg Foundation Monograph Fellowship.