People often react differently to the prospect of international business. While working in international trade does come with some difficulties — regular travel makes family and friends may be harder to maintain — there are those who look to participating in international business as the ideal career.
If you’re pursuing a degree in international business, it stands to reason that you’ll be spending a fair amount of time abroad in the near future. In preparation for leaving the U.S., make a point of familiarizing yourself with the country to which you will be traveling or relocating. By doing sufficient prep work, you can ensure that working abroad is an exciting, stress-free experience.
Take Language Courses
Few things are more stressful than traveling to a foreign country without speaking a word of the native tongue. Worse yet, living in a country without knowing the national language is liable to make you feel isolated and give way to embarrassing situations. For these reasons, taking language courses is essential for international business majors who intend to spend time abroad.
The type of course you should take largely depends on your preferred method of language study. If you learn well in groups, sign up for a language class at a local university or community learning center. If you’re more of a self-learner, there are a number of at-home language courses you can tackle in your free time. By extension, if you have friends or family members who are well-versed in the language you wish to learn, you can benefit from having them sit in on your study sessions and call attention to any errors you make.
Get a Feel for the Culture
Learning about the culture of the country to which you’ll be traveling is almost as important as studying the nation’s language. In addition to the abundance of information on foreign countries that is readily available online, many universities offer classes on the histories and cultures of other nations. These schools often employ professors who have spent a good deal of time in the countries they teach students about. In some cases, the professors are native-born citizens of those countries.By learning about a country’s culture, you’ll ensure that you don’t inadvertently commit social faux pas or engage in behavior that’s considered inappropriate in your host nation. If you’ve spent your entire life in one country, it’s easy to assume that your nation’s etiquette is universal. But as anyone who has spent time abroad can tell you, behavior that is perfectly normal in your country may be considered taboo in another.
Become Familiar With Trends and Popular Culture
By setting aside some time to familiarize yourself with a country’s trends and popular culture, you can get a feel for the nation’s most successful films, books, music and television series. This will ultimately make it easier to engage your foreign coworkers in conversation. No matter where you go, casual conversation can serve as the spark that ignites long-lasting friendships.
Exposing yourself to another country’s popular culture can give you a deeper appreciation for your new home. After sampling what the nation’s leading performers, musicians and artists have to offer, you’re bound to find a few things that appeal to your taste in entertainment. You may even discover that you enjoy certain facets of your new home’s popular culture more than the books, movies and TV series from your native land.
Develop a Taste for the Local Cuisine
Rather than experience food-related culture shock after arriving in your new home, do some research on the country’s most popular dishes. After familiarizing yourself with the types of food the country is known for, visit a restaurant that specializes in that nation’s cuisine. If you’re a whiz in the kitchen, print out a few recipes and try preparing some of the dishes yourself. By developing a taste for foreign cuisine prior to the big move, you’ll give your palette ample time to adjust to the food you’ll soon be consuming on a regular basis.
Learn About the Cost of Living
Before committing to a job overseas, go online and research how much you should expect to pay for rent, food, gas and utilities. Additionally, look up information on the country’s economy, tax policies and the average citizen’s quality of life. Educating yourself on the cost of living and working out a budget before going abroad will ensure that you don’t overstretch your finances after arriving. As InterExchange explains, budgeting is one of the most important preparations workers living overseas need to make.
Living abroad can be a bit overwhelming at first, particularly for people who have never been overseas. However, taking the time to familiarize yourself with everything a country has to offer will help you make a seamless transition to your new home.