Expat life involves leaving one's comfort zone

Sunday's report ("Glitzy image of expatriate life belies its darker side") highlights the adjustment problems faced by expatriates.

Even Singaporeans working abroad in the private and public sectors and their families face the same problems.

As the wife of a diplomat, where the lifestyle closely resembles that of an expatriate, I became a "trailing" wife at some point of my husband's career, similar to other wives in the same situation. But we have to cope as best as we can.

Moving out of our comfort zone into the unknown can be a stressful experience.

As career women, having given up our jobs to accompany our husbands, we have our fair share of loneliness, culture shock, financial dependence and the emotional and psychological stress in striving to find a balance to create a sense of belonging.

Even children suffer the emotional consequences of this change. Making new friends and fitting in at new schools can take its toll.

When my son was nine, he pleaded with me to leave him behind to continue his studies in Singapore. Fortunately, in spite of the moves, he emerged unscathed.

A friend's son was not that lucky. Unable to cope in an English-medium school, he suffered a nervous breakdown and required psychiatric help.

Marital break-ups, of course, know no boundaries and can happen in any household, expatriate or otherwise.

At the end of the day, it would require the will of both spouses, the family and individuals in managing their interpersonal and social relationships.

Padmini Kesavapany (Mrs)