WORKING ABROAD / APR. 28, 2014
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How to Determine if You Can Work Overseas Before Taking the Risk

Making the leap from your home to another world where you’ll know no one can be terrifying. You’ll be in a strange and distant land, your support system will no longer be a few minutes away, and you’ll undoubtedly be marked as foreign outsider for a long while. Should you do it? What do you need to consider? Here are some questions to ask yourself before you decide to work overseas.

Do you Like Routine?

A routine is often seen as undesirable, lacking the true spontaneity of an adventure, which most people (young people especially) consider their move to another country to be. And, in addition to that, most people who are considering a move to another country tend to at least slightly be thrill seekers. But, routines are also very stabilising. They provide you with an excellent base in your first few months, giving a calming influence that will help ease stress. It will help you settle in, and if you are a person who enjoys making daily life a repetitive exercise, consider that a plus.

What are Your Feelings About Diarrhea?

Traveller’s diarrhea is something that can afflict just about anyone when they settle in a new country. It could be the local cuisine that bothers you, but it’s just as likely that your stomach will be responding to the new amount of microbes and flora and fauna than anything else. There will be a period of adjustment is all I’m saying. How you respond to this period will be important. You can either see it as a toilet hugging hell, or you can enjoy it as an intimate exploration of your stomach and feces that you never had the chance to really observe before.

Are you Capable of Long Stretches Alone?

Outside of your work life, you’ll probably spend your first weeks floundering about your new world in isolation. This experience can be unnerving and can lead to you muttering, singing, and laughing with yourself and your imaginary friends as you walk the streets. For some people, even the thought of having dinner alone can be a frightening one, a moment where everyone in the restaurant will be watching and whispering about that weird foreigner. If these sort of anxieties of having no company are present when you go through your daily life, know that these emotions will be exacerbated in a foreign environment.

Do you Have an External or Internal Locus of Control?

When you’re abroad, you’ll need to adapt to the environment. Adaptability is first and foremost about imposing your will on an outside environment. It is a resolute determination to make the world yield the fruits you desire. And it is also being soft enough to let go of things your new life won’t allow. If you have an external locus of control and the world is always imposing upon you, or, in other words, if you’re always a martyr, then you’ll find yourself reeling in your new home. If you have an internal locus of control and your life is a result of your own resolve, then you’ll be better able to adapt.

How Dogmatic are you About Your Value System?

Going to a new country will challenge some of your old beliefs. It will challenge them in a way that you won’t expect and can’t predict. This challenging means many different things. First, it’s not that different from moving from one group of friends to another. You’ll meet people who think some things are ok for conversation and some aren’t. Second, if you’re someone who finds it difficult to gel with people with different opinions than you, well, your new world will be that much harder to adjust to.

What Does Your Family Think?

Do you have kids and a spouse? You should get their input about the situation. If your family is relatively settled, then it might not be a great idea to uproot them to a new locale. Your children may have such a hard time fitting in that they develop behavior problems. You should discuss with them the idea of living in a new country, where they will be marked as outsiders, and where they will need to spend a lot of their brain power on the idea of assimilation in addition to everyday stressors. You should also discuss how long you desire to spend in this new country with your family, because continually ripping growing children from their environs can often lead to adult psychological problems.

What is Your Main Motivation for Even Considering a Move Overseas?

You need to know, or at least convince yourself, of your primary motivation. If you’re moving because the pay is better for your chosen field, tell yourself that at night if you’re homesick. If you’re hoping to see the world, whisper that to yourself as you sit in that restaurant alone.  If you’re there for the low cost of living, rejoice in the cheap groceries that allow you to save more for retirement. Knowing your main motivation and allowing that to bring you daily satisfaction will help you push through painful periods of adjustment.


 

 

 

 

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