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Working Abroad – The 6 Biggest Expectations

  • by: Adrian Mansfield
  • On: 5, Jul 2017
3 min read

Working abroad can be an amazing, life changing adventure that will not only leave you with memories for a lifetime, but continue to transform your career path and expand your skills. VHR offers advice on what to expect and how to make the most of an invaluable experience working abroad.

How To Prepare For Working Abroad:

Social Expectations

Living and working abroad can be a little intimidating and strange at first; whether you’re a social butterfly or a little more reserved, it’s natural for the first few weeks to be a bit difficult trying to ground yourself and establish a social circle. Nevertheless, you’re guaranteed to meet new people in your new environment which inevitably expands your social and cultural awareness – irreplaceable experience!

Cultural Changes:

Wherever you travel to in the world, you’re guaranteed to find cultural dissimilarities – whether that includes different languages, religions, daily practices or living circumstances.

It is important to embrace these differences and to not expect local people to be familiar with your own cultural sensitivities and background. So much can be learnt from placing yourself in an unfamiliar environment, for example experiencing culture shock will shape your personality significantly by teaching you to trust your instinct, survive during periods of loneliness and unfamiliarity as well as develop a thicker skin.

Additionally, experiencing culture shock by coming into contact with a new language will force you to adapt and learn the new language quickly – an excellent addition to your CV.

Climate/Weather Differences:

Expect to be unfamiliar with new weather conditions! For example, winters in Czech Republic are somewhat colder than in UAE. Climate gives you the perfect opportunity to ‘live like a local’ – adapt to the cold winters by huddling in local warm social areas or cool off in an evening after work on a popular beach; all brilliant reasons to step away from the comfort of working at home. 

Expand your Skillset:

Working abroad provides an invaluable perspective of how your industry works globally. Being confined to one location can mean you’re somewhat sheltered, and there are only so many learning opportunities you can gain in one place.

Living and working overseas means you can grow from being isolated in the context of your own country to being more connected with what your job means from another cultural perspective, which can in turn improve your skill-set. For example, you may need to adapt to using more modern materials and machinery, or even sometimes less developed technology – regardless, your perspective will have changed and your skill-set improved.


Business etiquette can vary significantly from country to country with, for example, working in the UAE providing a very different experience to working in the U.S. and the U.K. Depending on the location, you may be more equipped for paced meetings, rapid results and a demand for efficiency, however, working overseas may be different. Instead of intense city living, there may be a slower pace which involves communication and efficiency on a different scale; this can be integral to developing brilliant overseas networks and relationships.

Golden Ticket:

In a world where degrees and certificates are frequently acquired, working abroad can be the golden ticket to standing out against the crowd.

There are three key attributes, according to studies, that are admired and sought after by employers:

  • Intellect

  • Psychological capital

  • Social capital

Read more about the most in-demand skills for 2019

In essence, employers are saying that working abroad makes an individual culturally aware, a great communicator, adventurous and thirsty for a challenge – all of which are excellent personal qualities easily applicable in a working environment.

Read our guide on how to get a job, or learn how to make yourself more employable

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