Losing your job is always traumatic no matter where you are; but losing your job abroad is somewhat more perplexing because it means that soon you may have nowhere to live!

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Expats know that their jobs are not forever; foreign laws change frequently, companies close and shut down at an alarming rate and well, ANYTHING including nothing at all can lead to someone losing their job while living abroad. Which is precisely what happened to me. Despite a good performance review, no issues or disciplinary problems, myself and over 1000 other teachers were released from our three year contracts.

Pros: We were given three months notice and would still be employed until August 2018.

Cons: Come August 2018, I would need to find another job in the UAE or find another country to live in.

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It’s a series of emotions that you experience when something shocking happens to you and as I watched people around me breakdown, I realized that it was worth me writing about and sharing my experience with people. So with the help of Pan Pan from one of my favourite shows, We Bare Bears, here we go:

What to do when you’ve just lost your job abroad?

1. Talk to someone whose advice you trust

The first thing that hits you is the shock; followed by the self deprecating thought of “Why has this happened to ME?”.

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Before you fall into this heady spiral of self doubt and self pity, speak to someone you trust about the situation. Sharing your thoughts can help you process them and provide clarity on the bigger picture. Realise you are in a very stressful situation, and being upset, or even angry, is normal. Remember, speaking to someone who will sympathize and tell you to ‘come home’ is comforting but speaking to someone who has lived abroad for a while & can help you really make sense of the situation and how to best deal with it, will be more of a help in the long run.

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2. Realise and review your options

After a while, the shock has worn off and you now have to think about what happens next. If you’re lucky like I was, you’ll have some time in which to evaluate the way forward. Otherwise, you may have to make decisions quickly. Maybe you’ll take this as a sign to go back to your home country and be with friends and family. Perhaps this is the push you need to move out of this country and on to the next destination. Or will you stay to enjoy the live you’ve built here but look for another job?

The next job you take may be a transitional one. Whether it’s full or part time, embrace it. Every experience is a valuable one and you never know where it may lead. It’s OK to freelance or find part-time work to get some cash flow until you find the perfect new position. In fact, you may find that you don’t need a full-time job as much as you thought you did to be happy and secure.

As an expat, who once took that all important leap to move abroad once, you have many paths to choose from because you are invincible and can do anything!

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3. Make the decisions that are best for you

Once you’ve reviewed your options, you’ll have to choose one. Many older expats take a job loss as a sign that they need to go back and spend time with the families. Younger expats often find it easier to find jobs in the same country or move on to somewhere new. Alternatively, the situation makes the decision for you; for example, if you’re looking to stay in the country but find a better job opportunity elsewhere while searching.

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Or you don’t find anything suitable and have to return to your home country for a while to avoid being in a country illegally. Often this stage is full of fraught uncertainty and is the hardest to cope with. Having an open mind helps because you never know what may happen; but once you make your decision, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief.

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4. Begin the exit procedures/start the process of packing

Depending on your situation, you will have to pack up and get ready for a new beginning elsewhere, whether its in a new country or simply a new job. You may have to sell your car and pay your loans; ship your furniture, cancel your utilities or simply pack up your clothes. It really depends on your situation but my advice is NOT TO RUN WITH DEBT. As you hit immigration at the airport, there is a high likelihood of you being arrested if you have a lot of debt attached to your name and show evidence of leaving for good. This happens OFTEN in the Middle East and people are thrown into jail as a result. Who wants to be stuck in a Middle Eastern jail??!!

Since I was renting my apartment (although my employer paid my rent), I have to cancel all of my household expenses and vacate the apartment before I can get my visa cancelled in preparation for my next job. Its about a 1-2 week process filled with paperwork… JOY!

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Since I have been living in the UAE for one year only- making it my second year in the Middle East- I decided I would continue to find a job in the region since I was not done with my experiences and the relationships I have cultivated since moving here. I was fortunate enough to find a job at another school in the UAE which means…

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At the end of the day, always remember- these things happen to everyone and taking them personally doesn’t make the situation any easier. I see expats blaming themselves, blaming their nationality, blaming the government of the country they reside in and basically doing everything other than dealing with the situation at hand. Blame never accomplishes anything. Don’t get addicted to your story of why you got fired or how unlucky you are, because it will hold you back. There is no shame or embarrassment to be had. Every successful person has lost a job at some stage. Instead of feeling shame, honour this as just a life change that will make you stronger.

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Also, a bad experience in one country doesn’t mean that living abroad is not for you; being open to all options increases your chances of finding something better than what you’ve just lost.

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Have you ever lost your job while working abroad? Share your experiences below and always remember to…

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