The conscious decision to open or close a life-changing gateway is an emotional process.
Before an international relocation (or a domestic one, for that matter) every component of the decision is weighed countless times over.
Potential consequences from each path and direction are analyzed from all angles. The immediate, intermediate, and long-term effects are mapped out.
A mental logic model takes shape with short and long-term inputs, actions, and outputs.
Plans A, B, and C are discussed at length and their potential to lead us down pathways D, E, and F are meticulously plotted.
What helps, but is not always possible, is a visit to your new destination in order to conduct your own Goodness of Fit test.
What is Goodness of Fit?
In statistics, the Chi-Square test is also known as a “Goodness of Fit” test and it measures the distance between two independent variables. You state your hypothesis, collect your data, analyze the numbers, and interpret the results.
The Chi-Square formula itself (shown below) is not something you ever need because calculators do all of the work, but it’s the sum of the observed-expected values squared and then divided by the expected values.
Χ2 = Σ [ (Oi – Ei)2 / Ei ]
Good news for you non-nerds out there…
Your internal computer will automatically conduct your personal Chi-Square test without the need of complicated mathematical theory.
A personal Chi-Square test might look something like this:
When considering relocating to a new place, your internal computer analyzes your environment, compares it to what you had imagined in your head, and spits out a result.
If what you observe is better than what you expected, you’ll have a positive goodness of fit.
“Yes!” you think, “This is going to be great!”
If, however, what you observe is not as good as what you expected, your Chi-Square will be negative.
You’ll know at your core without all of the complicated theories and formulas.
It won’t feel like, “Yes!” It’ll feel like a, “Ehh…I don’t know if I can live like this.”
However, regardless of your initial personal goodness of fit results, things always (always, always) change.
What once started out super great might turn into bleh and what was once terrifying and scary becomes a bit normal.
Your internal computer is constantly recalculating based on new inputs.
Your initial impressions are probably wrong, even if you think it’s great
Our initial impressions of a place (new location) are often wrong. They are surface-level only and it usually takes years before one discovers how wrong our initial feelings were.
This isn’t great news if you don’t have years and years to appreciate the nuances and intricacies of living in your particular foreign locale.
Sometimes things get better but sometimes they get worse with time.
You can always reassess your Observed-Expected results at any time and understand what’s causing your Goodness of Fit to feel so “off”.
Reassess over time
Maybe you were expecting too much of your new location. Maybe your observations were too shallow upon first analysis and there’s more below the surface.
Not only that, but humans are incredibly adaptable and adjust to their environment quite quickly leading those observed and expected values to be more flexible than originally thought.
Kids (and adults, too) who move around the globe frequently takes on chameleon-like characteristics and knows how to see the forest for the trees.
“Over and over TCKs use the term chameleon to describe how, after spending a little time observing what is going on, they can easily switch language, style of relating, appearance, and cultural practices to take on the characteristics needed to blend better into the current scene.”—Ruth E. Van Reken and David C. Pollock, Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds
“Many [Third Culture Kids] have moved in and among various cultural worlds so often that, while they may not know every detail of the local culture, they can see beyond that to the humanity of the people in front of them.”—Ruth E. Van Reken and David C. Pollock, Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds
See the humanity in front of them…
What if it’s all too much to handle?
But what if the core values of a new location do not match with your own personal core values?
What if the negative Goodness of Fit results are too negative? Too steep of a hill to climb every. single.day?
Can you find your tribe?
Your straw of hay in a pile of needles?
If the move is voluntary, I say don’t trade down too far or you’ll resent the move. Conduct a hypothetical goodness of fit test before you start packing and see what you think.
In my opinion, a voluntary trade must always net positive in order for it to be worthwhile.
That’s because there is always a cost with every relocation.
Neutral moves end up still causing harm because every transition itself is harmful to growth and development.
But seriously, just read Third Culture Kids and look at the research from experts who have studied global relocation for decades.
Moving is disruptive on many fronts and that could not and should not be ignored. Especially if you have young children (not babies, babies don’t care where they are).
If the move is forced and the net will be negative (in other words, you know you’re trading down), then you might need more help in connecting with the humanity in front of you.
You might need professional help.
I’m not a professional, but I know some who are
Here are my recommended professional resources for helping you cope with net negative (or just not obviously positive) calculations.
I know each of these women personally and I know they do amazing work and have a bounty of resources to help:
Listed in alphabetical order:
Join and attend a Families in Global Transition Conference
I’ve learned so much from every FIGT conference with the main goal of not messing up my children with our nomadic-like lifestyle. Learning from the experts in global mobility, we have made different decisions than we would have if we were not informed.
Arm yourself with knowledge so you can make informed decisions!