Being a foreigner in another land requires a lot of self-control. The pressures and challenges you face every day are much more intense than if you were in your home country. That is because you are in unknown territory, with people who were educated in a completely different way. This will require you to be more patient and more accurate with your decisions.
You are the one who came and brought a different style to a community that didn’t ask for transformation and prefers to follow what it knows best (for instance, its culture). Instead of judging and complaining about others’ behavior, I advise you to try to understand local customs by researching and studying the culture’s origins and development up to the present time.
To keep focused on your objectives, you need inspiration. Seeking out small and daily inspirations is an effective way to maintain your concentration as you pursue your achievements. Give yourself a bit of joy every day by doing something that gives you pleasure and a break from stress. This will empower you and help keep you strong. It also provides emotional protection from loneliness and depression, feelings that can kill your motivation.
Memories of family, friends, and trips you have taken are your ally in this emotional battle for survival and continuity. They are like your daily oxygen. They are especially important when you find things difficult, because they help to remind you why you started everything in the first place. Exercise your mind and review your memories constantly: Where do you come from? How did you get here? Why did you set out on this journey? Your memories are smart, strong medicine for your heart and your mindset, and help to neutralize bad feelings when it feels like difficult circumstances are weakening you.
You will need to have more discipline than you ever had before in your life. Like a soldier recruited to war, you are there to accomplish a mission and distraction is not acceptable. Besides focusing on your goals, you must be accurate in your decisions and carefully analyse your steps to make sure you are safe and developing effectively. Along the way, you will also encounter temptations, whether you are invited to try things other people find fun, are asked to stop what you are doing, or lose sight of your objectives to enjoy a lifestyle that is not yours. You will be tested and provoked, discovering your limits and weaknesses. So always remember why you started it all. This is about your dreams: if you choose the wrong ways to spend your time, it will cost you your whole life. Imagine yourself as an athlete in training. The best golf players in the world, for example, succeed because they’re dedicated to long hours of practice to achieve their goals.
Train both your body and your mind with sports. You need to be healthy and strong. When you are in different environment, your body can take a long time to adapt physically; even the local food can increase your difficulties in adapting. Sports help to keep your mind and body fit. Poor health and physical condition can slow down your reasoning, attack your mood and self-esteem, and kill your motivation.
Use persuasion and kindness as translation tools to combat loneliness. When you do not speak the local language fluently and want to express yourself or simply make friends, you can convey a positive image from the start by smiling and talking with your eyes; think about how Charlie Chaplin was able to say a lot without speaking a word. The eyes are the windows to your thoughts, and they can describe very well what you want and how you are feeling about the moment. It is like when you are learning to dance: at first, you let the other person lead the way and show you the basic steps, but after a while, you are dancing naturally and moving like a native.
Imagination is a very good skill to combat depression. It’s an effective technique for keeping your motivation when it becomes difficult to communicate with or trust people, whether in professional or personal matters. Visualize yourself in places and situations you would like to be in, create a detailed picture in your mind, and imagine how you will feel when it becomes real. Hold onto that feeling and keep it in your heart. Picture these images every day before you go to work. They will get your adrenaline pumping and keep you alive. The universe can provide what you desire. Create the atmosphere to help make this possible.
Learn the protocol. Think like a diplomat: you are there to represent the interests of your professional and personal goals, and also to represent your country in the best way possible. Understanding the lifestyle principles and rules of your host country is an intelligent and polite strategy for a peaceful, stable foreign passage. An effective ambassador must be a strong leader, as well as a good manager, a resilient negotiator, and a respected representative of his homeland. As a diplomat, you are not there to change your host country’s culture, politics, or administration; your job is to add value and find common reasons to work together to improve the quality of people’s lives. When you understand a bit about local situations and rules, you are showing respect. This also leads to opportunities.
Don’t be stupid; be smart and humble. If you know “everything”, you are not interesting to people. Everybody has something to say or share, as well as something to learn. Allowing others to speak makes people feel important. Talk, but only when necessary, and keep some information to yourself. Rich people don’t necessarily say how much they are worth or how much they know about business, yet they keep getting richer and wiser. Be careful how you use your knowledge. Important information today is like oil or diamonds: the few people who own and control it are, most of the time, the people who make the rules and set trends for the future.
Watch movies made by professionals from the country where you are living now, and follow the local news as well. Locally made movies will help you better understand people’s body language, community values, and expectations about the future. Movies tend to follow larger cultural trends and can help you identify where to best apply your skills.
Follow and watch news on TV. This is the best professional language tutor you can find to improve your pronunciation and grammar. News channels that focus on the economic and political issues of your host country will give you an overview of what is happening and why, and can help you with your future development. Even if you don’t understand everything, you will learn something you need to know, which is extremely important. You don’t always need to be a doctor to save someone’s life; sometimes, it is enough to understand the current situation, where it is happening, and how you can help.
Be a poker player. In other words, smile when someone offends you and ignore it when someone humiliates you. Responding in kind is not the best way to shut down negative people and, by controlling your reactions; you will protect yourself and your dreams. Unpleasant people can be hard to handle. Such people often behave as they do because they repeat puppet-like what other people say and do not know any better.
Avoid using too much technology with family and friends. To succeed in your goals and accomplish your professional and personal objectives as a foreigner, it is crucial that you immerse yourself 100 per cent in the environment in which you are living. This will help you learn, improve, and solidify your goals. You might have to sacrifice a bit more of your time, but this is the only way to accelerate your progress and achieve your goals so you can be with the people you love again sooner.
Love and emotion are powerful weapons, but they can also be dangerous, even fatal, to your dreams and can lead you off track. You need to know when and how to use these emotions. Being in daily contact with your family and friends offers a direct connection to your emotions: this can either be a catalyst for your internal energy or a motivation decelerator that leaves you focused on your distance from loved ones. Make sure your family and friends are the motivation for you to keep strong, and not the reason to give up your dreams and go back home early. Soldiers at war can’t always communicate with their families; they sometimes go months without any contact, but this does not mean they do not love their families. Beyond your individual roles and responsibilities, you want to represent your country and make your homeland proud of you. People tend to follow inspiring people. While some choose to stay where they are and teach classes or give lectures to inspire others, others decide to lead by venturing to new lands. In the end, it is your personal example others will follow.
No matter how, you must be strong and prepared to face a new world. Along the way, you will meet both good people and cruel people. Both types will contribute to your development and help you grow. Good people will inspire you and help you understand the importance of love in what you do. Cruel people will teach you to be strong, and to fight and defend your opinions. Most important, they will drive your determination to make your goals happen.
Ana Paula Mendes