As the world becomes smaller with faster flights, quicker connection speeds, and WIFI around every corner, our places of work grow less defined. The continual rise of globalization borders are becoming less fixed, and working and studying abroad have become increasingly popular. Though the many benefits of working abroad are clear, there are also a variety of pitfalls to watch out for. So, before you pack your bags, consider these five points to help you get the most out of your time working abroad.
As with anything in life, making sure you are prepared for what is coming next is vital. A happy-go-lucky attitude to visiting a foreign country, armed with only a phrase book and a vague conception of where you are, is no problem for the kooky backpacker, but will lead to a bumpy start to your stay if you are to be working in the country for an extended period of time.
A lot of companies offer employees moving abroad sessions to coach them on the culture and perhaps some basic language skills. Make the most of this! Though English is a global language, it is still not enough all of the time. In addition, you can learn a great deal about a culture through learning the language. If your company doesn't provide such sessions, or you are not going to be working with the same company when abroad, ensure you prepare yourself somewhere nonetheless.
If you are moving with partner and/or children, don't forget to ensure they are prepared, too!
If the move is not being organized for you, it is vital that you are certain of the working visa process. Sites like this one here
, helping workers apply for an American Greencard, can ensure that you navigate your way safely through all legal requirements and don't find yourself caught in deep water.
2. Ensure support is available
When you arrive in a new country, even one you may think is similar to your own, you may still experience culture shock
. By preparing yourself you can ensure that you are aware of some of the things to expect, and that you can process the things you don't expect within your knowledge of the country.
Make sure you are aware of the support mechanisms, if any, that are offered by your company. Mentor schemes are common, and a good way to help new expats adjust to the different lifestyle.
3. Immerse yourself
Once you have adjusted... dive right in! Working abroad provides the fantastic opportunity of discovering a new culture and new people to a depth that is impossible on a two week holiday.
Living abroad gives you time to not only tick off all the 'must-sees,' but also to discover the culture existing behind the tour guide. Get to know the locals – what they do, where they go – and avoid getting stuck in the expat bubble where the only thing different to home is the food and climate.
4. Stay in touch
If there is one, it is important not to lose touch with HQ back home. For some expats, this won't be a problem (you may find there is too much contact!), but for others, it can be an issue and lead to a feeling of being neglected and cast adrift.
Keeping in touch with the office back home will ensure that your work is valued, that you remain immersed in the company, and that you are fully aware of the role you are playing abroad.
5. Returning home
It is important to consider before you work abroad how this will effect your career in the long run, whether you will be returning to the same company or not.
Although there are a host of skills that one picks up through the experience of working abroad, there isn't always the opportunity to apply them on return. Ensure that your time abroad is going to be valued and that your progression in your career won't be put on hold when abroad.
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