An Expatriate Guide: Hosting

Aside from all the travel, another tremendous change in our lives as expats is the amount of hosting that we now do. We’ve been fortunate to have quite the number of excited guests come see us in Amsterdam. It truly does make us feel loved and not so detached from the life we left behind. HOWEVER, we have learned a lot about the do’s and don’ts of hosting. Yes, there are don’ts. Let’s dig in.

  1. Do feel the love. Isn’t this a great thought to start with? People love us! They want to see us! We love them! We want to see them! We have allowed ourselves to reflect on this wonderful feeling and consciously make the best out of each visit. It makes us happy. It cheers us up on a glum day. Just feel the love, people. Feel the love. Don’t forget that while this is your normal life, it is a vacation for your visitors. They are spending time and money to be with you. Enjoy these visits. Your guests will undoubtedly enjoy it too, if you have this attitude. So memories like this are created:

    J+J with M&M, our first visitors from home.

  2. Don’t rush. It feels great to have visitors wanting to knock down your (brand new) door that you may or may not know the exact location of. …I think this is my street? It truly does. Before we even moved, we had a list of people waiting for us to give them the go ahead to book their tickets. But we rudely forced politely asked that everybody wait. We needed some time (months actually) to get ourselves situated here and I think that made for more successful visits with our guests. We were already comfortable in our home and had gotten over all the new-ness (well, maybe not all) of life abroad, but we had figured out important things like grocery shopping and other daily routine-ish things, so that we didn’t have to waste time figuring it all out while guests were here. Not to mention the fact that we had only been married two months when we moved. Let’s just say, we really didn’t mind the alone time. Speaking of alone time…
  3. Do prioritize alone time. Jaro and I came to this realization rather slowly, but it might be the most important. Although our guests want to spend every waking moment time with us (which, trust me, is a great feeling), we have to remember that we are married to each other and need to make time to keep our relationship healthy, connected and “ours”. Meaning, we need time to talk, privately, about our own shit. That which is nobody else’s business. Whether that means we go for walks, head out for a drink or send off our guests so we can chill at home, we need that time. We are still newly-weds after all! How long can I call us newly-weds anyway? The thing we also needed some time to realize was that our guests would not be insulted by this. In fact, they, very likely, would completely understand. <Insert large exhale.>
  4. Don’t over-commit yourself. This is one area we are still working on. Hosting is tiring. There I said it. As much as guests say “no pressure” we are still hosting. I like to have a clean house. I like to make nice meals.  Julie, let it go. What? Yeah, we have also realized that not every single day has to be completely planned out, not every meal needs to take three hours to prepare, and not every corner of the house needs to be spotless (okay, well maybe it does, I can’t stand dust). So far, all of our visitors have been adults, which means all of them can figure some stuff our on their own. But this is a two-part don’t. While over-committing within a visit is one thing, it’s another to over-commit in the sense of over-book. We have realized that having back-to-back-to-back visitors, while fun, is draining. It’s hard to be out of our routine, however mundane, for weeks on end. Sometimes this stresses us out. And we need to forgive ourselves for it. At the end of the day, we never regret having our friends and family staying with us. It’s good to fill our home with life and laughs, because so often it’s empty.
  5. Do understand when people can’t come. This is a sad reality. Not every single person that loves us from home is able to come visit. Whether there are schedule conflicts, financial concerns, or just “oops, I have other things to worry about”, we need to accept that some people just won’t make it. It’s important not to demote these people in our minds just because we haven’t been face-to-face in awhile. Skype, email and instant chats have worked wonders in keeping us connected to folks back home.

Is this way off base? It has worked for us.

xxx

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3 thoughts on “An Expatriate Guide: Hosting

  1. You are not off-base. Visitors are really wonderful and also draining….

    It would be really helpful if visitors had some suggestions for what they would like to do rather than relying on the expats to be the tour guides. It’s not always easy to guess what people would like to see. If you are visiting an expat: please buy a guidebook and do a little research in advance (oh and ask what you can bring from home 😉 ) . Cheers, Jen

  2. Pingback: Kiev: Take Two | Those Dam Americans

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