4.26.2018

How to Overcome Challenges of Working Abroad






Working abroad is so exciting! You have probably happily entertained this thought while you were looking for available positions, and here it is! The trouble usually starts right before the move and soon after you arrive. This is because you need to overcome the moment of letting go and getting used to the new circumstances.

The language barrier

The problem number one you may have, is the most obvious one, the language. If you are generally not good with languages and you find it extremely difficult to learn a new one, choose a country where your native tongue is spoken (or any other language you already speak). This will help you cope at both, professional and the personal level. Good communication is important for all aspects of life, and speaking the same language is the essence of it.

Cultural differences

Cultural differences should never be overlooked and undermined.  If you are traveling to a country which belongs to “the same world” and has similar values to where you come from, it is easy. The differences usually seem as minor nuisances, or even quite entertaining.
On the other hand, if you are traveling to a country with a different system of values, then this is something which requires a significant amount of preparation, e.g. moving from Central Europe to South Asia.  If you want to fit in, you will have to get informed and open to their views. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Professional etiquette

This is an extension of the previous paragraph, referring to cultural differences within a workplace. Perhaps, the office does not look the way you would expect it to look. Maybe you do not have everything you are used to having. Hopefully, these are your biggest problems. If you do not manage to find information of what is considered to be “professional” in the country you are moving to, pay close attention and implement what you see.
 Of course, there are always exceptions to certain rules, but there are countries where people focus on punctuality, while in others they only care that the work gets done. Other places have businesses where overtime is encouraged, as opposed to stopping in the middle of the work and leaving at 5pm which is the case in certain countries. Eating at your desk may seem shocking to some, while others will share food and eat from the same dish with the same spoon in the middle of an office.

Conflicts with coworkers

Dealing with a conflict in the workplace is always challenging and you have to be extra careful. Any issues that may arise can be magnified by the fact that you are new, a foreigner, with possibly poor language skills, and potentially “stealing” someone’s job.
This type of conflict demands exceptional professional skills from the HR department. The chances are that they do not have enough experience to resolve this issue. This is when they should get professional workplace mediation services to assist. If they do not do it at first, remind them. A mediator will help you and your coworker understand each other’s point of view and overcome the communication barrier.

Training and support

Once you get to the new country, you will probably spend a lot of time working and learning new things. Training for a new job position is always stressful. There is a large amount of information you need to take in within a short period of time. You potentially even have to learn new skills. Doing all of that while starting off almost clueless and knowing that your position depends on it, can be very emotionally draining. It is always hard.
However, it is particularly hard if you are in a new country, surrounded by strangers without the professional, or emotional support to help you through this period. This is the right time to show confidence and ask for any further assistance you may need during the training. This will help you learn faster. Also, arrange times for long sessions with friends and family members at home, give them a call and let them be there for you.

Nostalgia, loneliness, and social life

At the very beginning you will spend a lot of time at work and with coworkers, but as you get into a routine you will have more and more time available for yourself. This free time is when people usually start getting lonely. Keeping in touch with people from home helps but is not the real thing.
You should now focus on your social life. Be open for interactions and visit events where you can meet people. Hopefully, you will manage to befriend some of your coworkers. In order to find places where you can meet people, take group courses and lessons. Find a discussion group you could join or a sport you enjoy.
You are a confident person, brave enough to leave everything behind and step into the unknown. You have been chosen by the company for your qualities and experience. They saw value in you and so should you. You should always remember these facts if you ever feel down. Once you establish your professional and personal network, your troubles will go away.

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