How to Adapt as a Young Professional Abroad
Whether you landed your corporate dream job in a foreign country or you’re on your way to it through an internship that may last from six months to a year or more, moving abroad is a life-altering experience.
You go through a lot of stages until you feel you fully fit in. You’re on your own. You don’t have a family yet. You’re fully focused on your career. You immerse in a country where you don’t know anybody, you don’t speak the language and – once the touristy charms fade away – homesick starts to overwhelm you. You feel lonely. If you’re an introvert, you tend to make things even worse by confining yourself to yourself.
No worries. It happens, especially during your first job abroad. But it doesn’t have to feel that way. The best thing you should do is avoid isolating yourself. It usually takes at least six months to really get to know your new setting, its culture and build a new circle of friends.
You’ll find tempting to share your experiences with other fellow expats.
Don’t spend 10-12 hours a day at the office, in your cubicle, as an excuse for being too busy. Try socializing with colleagues who share the same interests or hobbies like you.
Alternatively, you can join larger expat communities like InterNations. Through their online community you can meet, interact, and get advice from international professionals with various backgrounds: from diplomats to non-profit organizations members to journalists and multinational corporations’ employees.
You’ll be amazed to see how much you can learn from such people and how big of an impact being part of the community has on expanding your network.
You still won’t feel you’re one of the locals, but it’s a start in feeling home away from home.
Culture shock is part of the transitioning process while living in a foreign country and it’s an aspect unlikely to be avoided by expats, regardless of their personality and situation. It can be overcome by slowly moving out of your comfort zone and immersing into the locals lifestyle. There will be quirks and stereotypes you may not embrace in the beginning. Try not to let it get to you and be patient.
At the end of the day, you’re in a place where you want to further your career, learn new skills and broaden your horizons. That’s something that will work wonders not just in your resume, but for yourself as an individual as well, and will prepare you for other similar experiences that may lie ahead.
How was your first experience abroad on a work assignment? What did you do to prepare yourself for taking on such a new challenge?