• The International

The Unexpected Times!



Photographs: iStock

Text: Kathy Borys Siddiqui


Has social or physical distancing become the new “normal”? How do we come to terms with what is going on around us? Living global lives means that there are significant numbers of people currently living in their host countries. This means that they are away from close family members and friends. It also means that they need support and understanding.

Most of us never imagined the scenario that has become our reality. As global citizens, we continuously navigate from country to country for business, family visits, leisure, and travel is simply a part of our lives. We have now experienced closed borders, voluntary physical distancing, and self-isolation for the greater good of all. Large numbers of Internationals are currently away from their family and friends. Many families have had to rearrange their daily schedules and make “home offices”. It is a vulnerable and challenging time. How can we help ourselves? Defining expectations, being aware of them and using resilience skills may seem just a drop in the ocean but an important one, in my opinion.


Expectations - friend or foe I am quite sure that currently, there are expectations within all of us. Expectations that pertain to emotions, communication, interactions, and behaviour, to name a few. In situations of crisis or challenge, we often put our expectations on others.

Expectations are hopes and beliefs that something will happen, or strong believes about the proper way someone should behave or the way something should happen. (collinsdictionary.com)

Once we raise our awareness of expectations, we will be able to recognise them and communicate them in order to feel a bit better. Now, the way to help yourself is to ask yourself the following questions: - What kind of expectations do I currently have? - Why do I have them? - Can I control their outcome? Often, we put our expectations on others and therefore, we have no control over them. We need to remember that we can only control our feelings, thoughts, and reactions. To diminish unnecessary stress, we need to take a moment to assess the situation and to recognise our expectations. Once we do that it is also beneficial to ourselves and those around us to communicate our expectations. It is a way to regain balance and take control.


"Community, unity, and sense of belonging are so important in these trying times. You are not alone! We need one another more than ever, and once again, we also need to be open and vocal about our needs."

Come together right now

Community, unity, and sense of belonging are so important in these trying times. You are not alone! We need one another more than ever, and once again, we also need to be open and vocal about our needs. For some, this may be very uncomfortable. Thankfully, as internationals, we are equipped with great skill. Resilience! Whether we are aware of it or not, we use resilience regularly. It is the ability to deal with significant changes and challenges.

We are all different, and so are the ways we cope with change, stress and the unknown. More than ever, resilience will come in handy. Going back to “normal” will be a gradual process, and it will require patience and an open mind. Gradual return to workplaces, schools, meetings, conferences, shops, cafes, or restaurants will require that we practice resilience day in and day out. What positive changes and routines will we implement in our daily and professional lives? We can not deny the importance of emotional well-being, soft skills, stress management and tools that help us enhance and implement them in everyday life. In light of the current circumstances, we have had to face our vulnerability and sensitive topics. I believe that by joining forces, collaborating, helping each other out, being open, aware and willing to adapt, learn and support, we will come out stronger. Remember to be kind to yourselves and others!

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