The honeymoon and “bad moon” of expat life

Many speak of a “honeymoon period” and the troubles that can arise after it in romantic relationships, but those who have settled to live in a foreign country might notice something similar with their relationship to their new surroundings. Some time ago I was writing an article while waiting for a bus. I planned to continue my work during the ride but was surprised to find it impossible. For a moment I had forgotten that buses are driven quite differently in Finland and France. For a Finnish person, a French bus ride can feel a bit like being in a rally car.

It takes time for all of our unconscious expectations to adjust to meet the reality of a new culture. Small individual instances like a bus ride are usually easy to face but it is never in our control how many small adversities we face during the same day. For the cultural native the frustration of an expat might sometimes sound like overreacting and people rarely enjoy hearing repeated criticism of their culture. This is therefore one of the common causes of arguments in many intercultural relationships. The arguments can be augmented if the expat life’s honeymoon period ends at the same time as that of the relationship. It should be remembered though, that just like the honeymoon period, when you paid so much attention to all the positive aspects of your new situation, also the “bad moon period”, when you notice more the things that are challenging, will pass.