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Exploring the experiences of foreign nationals living and working in Durban, South Africa.

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Globalization has led to increased international mobility, with many people living and working outside their countries of origin. Migration is an extremely complex process that has social, and psychological implications on the individuals or groups undergoing the process. The success of expatriates, that is migrants sent typically by a multinational organization to work in another country, has previously been measured by their organizational outcomes and completion of their assignment. Some losses and damage that result from expatriate failure include: loss of business and productivity, damage to relationships with other employees or customers, as well as the financial and emotional and psychological costs borne by the expatriate and their family. Understanding an individual’s experiences during an expatriate assignment can facilitate positive adjustment and increase coping strategies as they work and live away from their home country. Research on expatriates shows the main factors that influence adjustment or contribute to stress are the new culture in the work and social settings, family adjustment in the new country, distance from home and lack of preparation. The aim of this study was to investigate the experiences of expatriates and any coping mechanisms used to adjustment living and working in Durban. This current work followed a qualitative approach, conducting semi-structured interviews with 10 participants. The findings of the present study were generally consistent with previous similar studies. Expatriates reported that factors that made their adjustment challenging, and caused stress, included distance from their home country, family adjustment, uncertainty, and cultural differences. Support systems, previous expatriate experience and personally seeking diverse experiences facilitated adjustment. Unique contributions included how the challenging process of visa application negatively affected adjustment and expatriate’s experiences in Durban. The outcomes of this study may contribute towards developing interventions or programs that adequately prepare expatriates and increase the level of psychological support made available to them and their families.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.