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FAQs for Living and Working Overseas:


Written by a former Peace Corps Volunteer living overseas since 1989

The Expat Guy: FAQs for Working and Living Overseas

What's the downside of working overseas?

What if things go bad?

When you are working overseas, just like working in your home country, things can go south.  You can find yourself in a job or with coworkers you don't like.  The same can happen if you don't like or don't feel comfortable with the culture, country or city.  Anything that could go wrong with a job back home, can also go wrong overseas - and even a few more things.

Fortunately, in most countries, it is not difficult to change jobs.  Be aware though, that in some countries there can be a difficult process for changing jobs and you may need to go to another country for a "visa run" or even to find work.

Plan for the best, prepare for the worst

None of us have trouble dealing with ideal situations, so lets talk about the worst case scenario.  There are many ways to avoid this difficult situation - be sure to read and understand the advice in the "Job Hunt" sections of this website, especially the sections on what you should know before you accept a job.

Just in case things do go bad you need to make sure you have a return ticket home, or to another desirable country (or the cash/resources to buy one), and enough cash to survive for at least three months.  This is more than most people recommend, but be conservative here.

Three months and a plane ticket will give you the time and ability to figure out your next move, make it, and work in your new job/location until you get your first pay check.  In an ideal world - six months cash would be great.  But many people don't have access to that much money.

Culture Differences

Stay cool, try to work things out - culture differences can take their toll when you are first overseas.  Misunderstandings are easy and culture shock is common.  Some of the most frustrating moments can be due to simple cultural and/or language misunderstandings. 

Short story: A university dean once thought I was insulting him due to the direct translation of a positive comment being negative in his language (but not in English).  Another was a supervisor refusing to say "No" when he meant "No" - but it was a cultural impossibility for him to do so - so he said "Yes" and I didn't pick up the cultural reluctance until later - with uncomfortable feelings all around.

Pay attention to the guidance on this website on looking for a job and researching your new position, and you can avoid 90% of the headaches involved.

 

 

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For when you start teaching English Abroad:
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