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New language. New faces. New foods. New customs. Even if someone is a seasoned expat, the move to a new community requires an adjustment. It can be overwhelming - and lead an expatriate to lose sight of personal and professional goals.
Enter the expat life coach: A paid professional who helps expatriates acclimate to living abroad more quickly. Expat life coaches may offer professional coaching on a variety of fronts or they may focus on a specific area, such as understanding the foreign culture, language or international business environment.
Individuals tend to use expat life coaches for the following reasons, according to Katya Barry, an expat and international business coach in Munich.
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· Help with planning the move and settling in: hunting for a home abroad, finding schools, setting up utilities and bank accounts
· Cultural differences: learning the language, adjusting to customs and traditions
· Business-related professional coaching: setting goals, achieving success, building networks
· Meeting others: suggesting expatriate activities and events
· Repatriation to the States or a different home country
The type of expat coach an individual uses will depend on his or her specific needs. "An expat who is a CEO, for example, will benefit from an expat business coach because they're able to relate to business culture, as well as help adjust within the new domestic culture," Barry says. However, an individual who is traveling for personal reasons might get more value from a culture- or family-focused expat coach.
Barry recommends that her clients attend at least one in-office or Skype session per month for three months prior to moving - followed by three months of Skype sessions after arriving in the new country. "A coach can provide the most value and support if the relationship is established for a longer period of time," she says.
Typically, expat life coaches will offer individuals a complimentary session as a trial to determine if it's a good fit. This is typically a good time for individuals to establish what they want to get out of the sessions.
Prices vary based on the coach, but individuals should expect to pay between $50 and $400 per session, and for a CEO, prices may range from $500 to $2,000, Barry says. An online foreign exchange service can facilitate the transfer of foreign payments by enabling bank-to-bank money transfers that can be initiated via virtually any mobile device.
The best way to find a qualified expat coach is through LinkedIn, Barry says. Search "expat coach" for individuals or for groups that cater to expats, like the Trailing Spouse Network and The Expat Coach Association. Another option is the Expat Coach Directory, which features 29 members and helps individuals find life coaches that meet their needs.
Expats should look for a certain level of expertise when choosing a coach. Among leading coaching organizations are the International Coach Federation (ICF), the Association for Coaching and The Coaches Training Institute (CTI).
Whether an expatriate wants help growing a network or guidance during a cultural adjustment, an expat life coach can provide valuable advice to motivate an expatriate to achieve his or her goals.
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