Culture shock? No thanks! - How to prepare for life abroad
Average reading time: 3 minutes.
Is your company internationally oriented? You have the chance to work abroad for a while? Your decision has been made? A good preparation as well as the right attitude are essential to cope better with the numerous changes, to settle in faster and thus make the assignment a real success.
Everything you are used to will change. There are many differences that can lead to misunderstandings and lack of understanding. These are for example:
Attitude to work and deadlines
attitude to authority
"Said doesn't always mean said,
said does not always mean heard,
"To hear is not always to understand."
Freely adapted from Konrad Lorenz
A first important step is to get to know the culture that is new to you. Most companies offer training, language courses and an information trip to prepare you for your new working environment. In addition, you will find literature and blogs (resources can be found here) that provide insights into different cultures and explain cultural differences.
Willingness to change
In addition to country-specific and cultural theoretical knowledge, I also recommend that
you develop a willingness to change your experiences and behavior towards your new environment.
People have different perceptions when dealing with each other. What appears friendly from the point of view of your home culture can be considered rude in the environment.
A question of attitude
In the first months in the USA, my wife found it very difficult to accept that often only a telephone contact led to a solution and not, as usual, a short e-mail. So for her first bank transfer she had to contact her bank by phone. From her point of view, appointments with doctors could also not be arranged easily and quickly.
It took a while, but after an angry attitude of know-it-all "Why do they do things so differently here?" she gradually adopted a more relaxed attitude of not knowing "My name is Hare. I'll find out how it works."
Intercultural learning through self-reflection
By reflecting on your thought and behavior patterns you can recognize your attitude and question situations. Thereby you develop empathy and tolerance. Both are very helpful when you meet people from other cultures.
"The ability to decipher cultural characteristics is essential."
If you do not do this, you run the risk of relating differences of opinion or misunderstandings to personalities. Your trust in good knowledge of human nature alone is not enough. Rather, you should be equally aware of cultural and individual differences.
Intensive preparation can prevent difficult conflicts and dissatisfaction. Learn to be able to change your perspective and take off your own cultural glasses. But also be sure that there will be times, especially at the beginning of the assignment and the return to your home country, that will bring you to your mental limits.
Albert Schweitzer brings it to the point:
"The biggest decision of your life is that you can change your life by changing your mindset."
If you need support in the process of your assignment, I will be your sparring partner. Through self-reflection you can arrive optimally in the new country and start successfully in your new position.