The first few months in Mexico City will probably be stressful. Compared to other times in your life, even little problems may become blown out of proportion. The adjustment period is different for everyone, and you will need to go through it at your own pace and in your own timeframe. Don't compare yourself to others you meet. Some of the people who have lived abroad before may have developed the skills to adjust sooner than those who have never previously lived away from home. Be patient with yourself and your family members.
What each person must adjust to may differ, depending on his or her role in the family. The working spouse may simply waltz effortlessly into a familiar business environment, while the stay-at-home spouse wrestles with the challenge of trying to run a household in a vastly different environment. Successful expatriates do share certain characteristics, such as optimism, a sense of humor, adventure, adaptability, and flexibility.
Some transnational companies tend to forget that there is a lot more to sending someone abroad than simply deciding if he or she is qualified to do the particular job. The larger question should be whether or not the non-working spouse and children will be able to adapt to their new environment. This adaptation is of paramount importance to the assignment's success, both personally and professionally.
Experience has shown that the challenges inherent in living abroad are simply not for everyone. Although some children do flourish abroad, others—through no fault of their own—are never quite able to make the necessary adjustments and are absolutely miserable. For these children, boarding school may be an option. On the other hand, there are families who use the time living in Mexico as an opportunity to grow closer as a family. Clearly, one size does not fit all situations.
Some people prefer to first focus on making new friends; while others choose to get settled in the home. Some people elect to lay low while they first learn Spanish and only then venture outside the home. Others may just run out the door and jump in with both feet, enthusiastically exploring their new environment. Whatever your style, getting adjusted is simply a matter of time, effort and patience—with yourself and your expectations. Remember too, that each member of the family will undergo his or her own adjustment process. Learn to recognize the up and down cycles that are involved in this process.
For some, that first year can be a series of major adjustments that can affect even their relationships and health. For others, it may be a virtual honeymoon until the newness wears off and the reality sets in. For most people, the process of adjustment is simply a series of daily accomplishments of overcoming obstacles, both small and large.
Should you have a particularly frustrating day or week, don't lose sight of the fact that things will almost certainly eventually get better. Remember the Five-year Rule: If whatever it is won't be remembered or important in five years, try to forget about it.
Life in Mexico
Managing your home and your life in Mexico will be different from what you have previously been accustomed to and will vary depending on whether you live in a house or an apartment. Both options have their particular pros and cons, and it is up to you and your family to decide which choice is best for your needs.
For additional information on Living in Mexico, check out these pages: