This article accompanies Coming to America.
University of California-Berkley now offers a 10-week course -- Creating a Fulfilling Life in America -- that helps newcomers develop a social network and address many issues, such as isolation, stress and cultural differences, says Yvonne Lefort, a career consultant and intercultural trainer who teaches the class.
Lefort's students, who represent at least 15 different nationalities, are spouses of visiting scholars or post-doctoral, research or graduate students at the university.
While global companies typically provide a one- or two-day workshop on American culture for the families of expatriates, she says, it's not nearly enough. She compares it to placing a Band-aid on someone who's just had a heart transplant.
"The happiness of a spouse is crucial to the success of an international assignment," Lefort says. "Spouses are part of the whole picture ... . If companies want to make sure their employee is happy, spend energy on making sure the spouse and family are happy."