Here in the northern hemisphere, when it gets to be February, March and April, the season begins. You would be forgiven for thinking that I’m referring to the blossoming springtime.
Emerging from winter is certainly important, but there is another season beginning to bud: it’s what I referred to last year as a matter of The Clash Roulette, aka ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?’ outlined in Staying Put, For Now.*
Expats of all stripes begin that dance, circling tenuously around the question of whether they (or their friends and colleagues) will be moving on, repatriating or staying put.
Those that work for their governments (e.g., foreign service or military) are usually on set orders: x years here, followed by x years there and so on. Occasionally there is a one-year extension or abrupt change in plans, but for the most part these folks know when they’re scheduled to leave.
For those who work in international organizations, non-profits or the private sector, it’s much more of a crap shoot.
The decision to stay or go (and to where) may or may not rest in their hands, so a careful set of calculations ensues.
Is my job safe or should we strongly consider taking that opening in fill-in-the-blank?
Should we try to move this year to avoid moving our child in their last year of school?
Now that our last child has left the nest, it’s time to head back home.
Now that our last child has left the nest, I’ve always wanted to live in fill-in-the-blank.
Can I find a job in this economy if we decide to move home due to family considerations?
Another round of layoffs are coming, what’s our best course of action?
Time to try something (or some place) new…what are our options?
What if you accept a lateral move in your organization – could we then stay a couple more years?
Even when you think the issue is settled, things can change in a heart beat: falling in love, having a(nother) child, career change, job transfer, unexpected reassignment, divorce, serious illness, accident, even death.
Or job opportunities you weren’t expecting. We went through that earlier this year as Husband was approached to apply for a couple of jobs in two very different countries with equally diverse cultures on opposite points of the globe.
He’s quite happy with his current position and we really enjoy living here. Yet both were good career moves for him, and with Daughter facing her last two years of high school, they represented now-or-never (or more accurately, now-or-not-for-at-least-two-years) possibilities.
But things aren’t always what they seem (as in the case of the first job) and being asked to apply is not the same as finally being offered the job (as with the second). After a relatively tense few weeks we were able to step out of our own version of The Clash Roulette.
And no, I didn’t mention to anyone (family or close friends) because there’s no need to churn the waters when it’s all hypothetical.
So once the dust settles and you’ve got an accounting of who’s going where and when, what then?
Well, I’ve explored that a bit further in my monthly column over at Expat Focus, That Time of Year. Hope you get a chance to wander over and have a read.
*Guest posted on Russell’s site In Search of a Life Less Ordinary.