Expatriates are people living in a country which is not his country of origin or citizenship. This is often temporary and for work reasons. Saying this, we should be able to imagine the hardships expatriates had to undergo whenever they go to a foreign country without anyone else to accompany them. Some of these challenges they have to deal with include contrast of his or her country of origin to his or her host country in personal space, eye contact, physical appearance and gesture among others.
We all know that different countries have different cultures, beliefs and norms. Expatriates country of origins cultures and norms may be different from the host country they will be in and this leads to challenges. For an instance, personal space how close we stand to our colleagues, our friends, strangers varies widely between countries. Some countries let strangers close to them and some might not. If expatriates are used to being close to others and they suddenly do it in their host country where people are not used to strangers getting to close to them, that might be a problem and they need to adjust in order to fit in.
Aside from personal space, eye contact is also a challenge. Why? Because like personal space, countries differ with a simple eye contact. Some countries like US and even the Philippines translate eye contact as showing respect and that you are interested to the person you are talking to and if you look in a different direction or gaze away, the person you are talking to might see this as a sign of disinterest. But this is not the case on all countries. Countries in Middle East interprets eye contact differently from that of the US and Philippines. They have rules for eye contact, specifically for the Muslims and these rules are connected to their religion. If expatriates are from the Middle East and their host country is somewhere in US, they might have a trouble in expressing respect and interest just because of an eye contact.
Aside from those, physical appearance can also be a challenge especially the way you carry yourself and how you dress. We all know that different countries may dress differently. It may be because of their culture, or because of their religion. If the expatriate is someone from the US, which we all know is very liberated, and is dressed informally, like for example, wearing shorts and tank top, other countries might disapprove to this because thats not how they are used to.
Lastly, gestures. Like eye contact, your gesture might mean differently all across the globe. For example, the expatriate do a thumbs-up, for a lot of countries, this means that the expatriate is approving or agreeing to something but if the expatriate did this in Bangladesh, it would mean that he is insulting the person he is talking to. Other countries in Middle East even sees thumbs-up as a thumbs-down. Even keeping your hands to your pocket which is like something everyone would do is a sign of arrogance and rudeness for Asian countries like Korea and Japan.
These are just few of the challenges an expatriate face in his host country. This just means that if youre an expatriate and youll be immersing in another country. It wouldnt hurt to research your host country about their culture, beliefs and traditions so that youll have knowledge and background with what youre going to deal with once youre already there. They must keep in mind, that knowledge is always power.