Q: The large pharma company I work for offered me the chance to work in the Paris office for a year.
I thought it would be good for my career to get some international experience, but after three months I'm hating it. My French colleagues are cool towards me, despite the fact that I speak French quite well. After the first few weeks, my friends in London stopped visiting and I feel I'm growing apart from my boyfriend, who is still there. I want to make this work, but it's not what I thought it would be. Should I come back to Britain or stick it out? I don't want to be miserable for another nine months.
A: Most experiences of this kind are U-shaped. They start on a high, with welcoming colleagues, the excitement of the new and old friends all too keen to visit. Then things plunge into steep decline. You find yourself in a sort of no-man's-land between novelty and familiarity. Relationships take time to mature.
Three months in is probably the lowest point in your U-shaped experience. You may be tempted to nip back to London more often than you can afford - but please resist that temptation; all it will do is confirm your cool French colleagues in their suspicion that you're still an outsider. The bottom of that U will last even longer.
So please don't chuck it in now. You're almost certainly through the worst, and it would be a terrible waste if you failed to make use of your investment. Your sense of accomplishment as your upturn begins will soon obliterate those painful early memories.