If you are embarking on an international experience for the sake of your career, take a deep breath and fire up your thinking pistons. No matter how fantastic the new job sounds, the fact is that it is going to be a pick-and-shovel experience nonetheless.
In your mind, you may know that you have that dynamic personality that makes you ideal for the novel experience of working in another country. But be sure to evaluate all these factors before you commence this venture, as it will impact both you and your family as well.
Here are some useful ideas for those looking to pursue their future in foreign countries with an intention of leading much more fulfilling and stable lives.
1. Familiarize Yourself With Cultural And Social Differences
It is highly crucial to understand the cultural, economic and working mandates of the country in which you are intending to pursue your career. Aptly prepare yourself for living outside your comfort zone, as a long term experience fraught with challenges lies ahead.
Keep yourself open to the new environment and be alert at all times. Learning everything from how to greet locals to how you spend time on a local holiday, to respecting religious events, is going to be a demanding experience.
However, it could get equally fascinating and enjoyable depending on how curious and motivated you are about this rewarding journey. To truly assimilate into the new surroundings, you will have to observe and understand the new culture and its customs, which may either be more conservative or more liberal compared to your own.
Despite the fact that you have done your homework regarding the climate and timings, there are many mechanics of the process to master such as visa policies, accommodations, passport validities etc. For such information, it is always beneficial to interact with other expats through social media, expat forums and taking full advantage of electronic media. However, the best way is still to actually go out into your new habitat and mingle, all the while taking in the cultural concoction, from its heritage to its traditions.
2. Combating the Communication Barrier
Expressing yourself is an immensely important part of the process. You will need to interact with the locals on a daily basis for things as small as asking directions and shopping for groceries. Learning the language of a foreign country – at least on a basic level – should be one of your prime goals.
Give it a shot using books, media or even through intensive courses being offered. Being able to communicate will make your life easier and less frustrating. It will also help to boost your confidence in general, as communication is one of the fundamental needs of any human.
Citing my own experience, learning a new language during my time abroad for higher studies made me truly believe that language should not be taken for granted, especially when planning to work where there exists a linguistic transition. This will also sit well with your new co-workers and maybe even your boss who will appreciate you going the extra mile.
3. How Secure Are You In The New Country?
Definitely, your intentions behind this life-changing step are to lead a more cherished and prosperous life. You can not jeopardize your life for the sake of a higher income or a triumphant future. Be clear about the political situation and stability of the country where you are headed.
Gather all relevant information about the place, the city, where your residence is located and where your work area will be. Find out what kind of help your company offers regarding insurance, health benefits, employee security and what happens when you want to retire, to ensure that the organization truly cares for its employees. Other common tips to remain safe include being careful about keeping an eye on your bag while walking in public places and avoiding dark places after dark.
Remembering the time I went on an expedition for my science project to Romania last year, I decided not to take any valuable ornaments after hearing stories about jewelry snatchers on the streets. I think that kept me mentally relaxed and focused on my work.
4. Overall Impact On Your Career
Don’t get overly excited about being offered an overseas work opportunity. Hopefully, it will do wonders for your CV, expanding horizons for your ever-growing future. But, you need to get your homework done before making any rash decisions.
Talk to yourself about what you are getting into and why you are getting into it, especially if you are accepting the offer for the sake of money (as employers usually offer better pay and benefits packages for overseas assignments). Ask yourself whether it will truly all be worthwhile. Will it really enhance your skills as you imagine, are you simply risking everything for the sake of traveling or to add an overseas assignment to your LinkedIn profile to make it more eye-catching? Be sure to evaluate the risks and benefits involved.
5. Work and Health Authorization
Be aware of the fact that not everyone can work in the host country. Your employer should be you in touch with HR or an advisory company to provide assistance and guidance with respect to obtaining a work permit. If your employer does not provide such assistance, search for a relevant consultant or attorney.
Find out whether your employer provides health insurance and how you would go about obtaining dental and medical care when working outside your native country. Knowing this and sharing that information with your family will become extremely critical in times of emergencies. Health can be unpredictable, so make sure your insurance policy is valid where you will be living and when you are traveling through other countries.
6. Employer-Sponsored Preparation and Acclimation Training
Good employer-sponsored preparation and acclimation programs offer essential training that employees and their families need to live successfully overseas. Customized training that focuses on local business practices and cultural norms begins prior to the employee being sent overseas. Frequently this training is supplied by experienced language translation services that provide first-hand knowledge of housing, shopping, healthcare, education and other information needed for general daily life.
Once the family is located in the destination country, they receive more comprehensive training that helps them to assimilate. Most assimilation programs assign individual family members to mentors who provide counseling in specific areas of need.
6. Moving Back Home
“Never forget your roots“ is a saying that seems to be tailor made in its context for the people seeking their future abroad. One day you may have to return to your country even though you may have become a citizen of the host country.
Although you may adapt to the new cultural and working environment, one shouldn’t completely disconnect from his or her own ethical, cultural and working background, especially if he/she intends to return home. For this purpose, technology has proven to be more than a blessing. Use it to stay in touch with your friends, family, ex-colleagues, and employers. Maintain appreciation of what you have now, with a greater respect for what you left behind.
7. You and Your Family’s Decision
We humans are all connected with one another by one form of relationship or another. Your decisions impact those around you, especially your family members. You need to consider their opinion as they will also be affected by your choices.
Think critically, carefully weighing the pros and cons of your decision – especially if you are the sole breadwinner of the family. If they plan to travel with you, see what flexibility the employer provides and see if you can manage within the budget you have planned.
Featured photo credit: Do8y via c2.staticflickr.com