What is resilience? with Jamie Gelbtuch

The most important skill you need when moving to a new country

What is resilience? with Jamie Gelbtuch

The most important skill you need when moving to a new country

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Jamie Gelbtuch is an American, born and raised in New York. She learned French as a child from her mom. Jamie went on to pursue languages and cultures, and business throughout her studies and career. She has some experience living abroad. 

For the past 12 years, she’s been running Cultural Mixology  which helps expats and global teams leverage the power of cultural differences so they can thrive in a multicultural environment.

You lived in multiple countries, right?

Yes, I have experience studying and working, and living in France. I also finished my master’s program in South Africa. I spent a lot of extended time in Mexico for some personal reasons. Then a lot of work trips and travels throughout 30 plus other countries.

So I guess your experience being an expat helps you help other people make the same decisions and going on the same path.

Absolutely. It helps to have experienced these things. Even when you’re not on a long-term assignment, just the value of being overseas for other purposes and feeling that discomfort is valuable. Sometimes that nervousness reminds you about what people go through when they make these transitions.

Because if you don’t experience it yourself in the first person, it’s hard to understand what people typically go through when they have to settle in a new country and a new culture.

Resilience is about this ability to bounce back, and as an expat, if you can’t bounce back, then you would either likely return home to your home country, or you would probably get stuck in a really difficult place.

Jamie Gelbtuch
I mentioned this topic multiple times before on the podcast because I think of resilience as the emigrant’s superpower. You covered this topic very well in your ebook, The Role Of Resiliency In A Global Lifestyle. For the people that are not familiar, what is resiliency or resilience?

Well, I love that you describe it as the expat’s superpower. Maybe in the second edition of the book, I will include that and credit you for that because it really is. What I think resilience is it’s a certain strength or ability that allows us to bounce back from adversity or stressful situations. To move through these types of circumstances and events in our life without necessarily having to go around them.

Which is kind of the norm when you move to a new country. Every person in their life has obstacles because life isn’t always easy. Still, especially for people that are moving abroad, we usually have more obstacles than the average.

Does resilience comes automatically just by going through life, or we have to build muscles like through exercise and repetition?

I wish it came automatically from going through life, but unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. I think it’s something that you have to focus on cultivating. Like I said, it’s about this ability to bounce back, and as an expat, if you can’t bounce back, then you would either likely return home to your home country, or you would probably get stuck in a really difficult place.

It’s a series of ups and downs and events that you have to bounce back from in order to keep forward momentum and to keep moving forward.

To do that, you need a lot of skills that form the recipe for resilience. We can build resilience by being flexible, curious, and self-aware. The more we practice skills like this, the more we can train our brain, which is like a muscle, to practice resilience in the everyday stressful situations that we may encounter.

Do you think everybody has the same level of resiliency when they start, or is every individual different?

Every individual is different, right? By default, we all have different personalities. Some people’s personalities may be more flexible and more curious. Some people may have grown up in circumstances that forced that upon them, and they may have cultivated it.

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