If you’re still far from decided what it is that you want to do, despite having been in the same job for quite some time, then you’re not alone. In our modern times, we rarely hear of having a job for life so changing career every now and again is certainly far from unusual. The question is how do you go about making these changes and deciding on what to do next?
For those without the responsibilities of children or a mortgage weighing heavily around their neck, the choices seem limitless but one sure-fire way of gaining life and work experience is to work abroad. It might not be something you’d considered before, or you might be the adventurous type always looking for the next new experience. However you feel about it, spending some time exploring and working in a foreign country looks great on your CV and will build your life and employment skills. Aside from the obvious benefits of taking on new workplace challenges, you also have the potential to learn a new language, develop your self-confidence and demonstrate that you’re someone who’s prepared to take risks and step out of their comfort zone.
If that sounds like something you could get on board with, then the first thing you’ll need to do is figure out where you want to go. Will it be a foray into Europe, with the opportunity to explore some great culture capitals or perhaps a long-haul flight to South East Asia and the chance to live and work in a new and probably unfamiliar country?
Once you’ve figured out where then you’ll need to think about what. What will you do once you’re there? The smart money is on having everything in place before you leave, including accommodation and a contract. Many companies will arrange this for you and even have you liaise with a relocation company agent who can show you around and answer any of your questions about your new home. They’ll also help you figure out the transport system, help you buy tickets and so on to get you started. A great company will have your wifi, television and phone lines in place when you arrive so all you have to do is settle in.
It might be that your current employer has offices around the world, and you’ll be able to apply to spend a year or two getting experience this way, or you may be applying for a brand-new role in a brand-new organization. If you’re hoping to change career even slightly, you might be tempted to try Teaching English as a second language. This is a great option if you’re between careers. You’ll need to have the relevant qualification, generally called a Certificate of English Teaching to Adults (CELTA). This qualification has worldwide recognition and should be all you need to teach in schools all over the world.
What To Expect
When you arrive at your new destination, expect to feel overwhelmed. It’s perfectly understandable and you’re not going to have everything figured out on the first day, or even the first week or month. Instead, take your time and start exploring in small circles from your house or apartment. Check out the basics, the nearest supermarket, where your bus to work leaves from and where to buy your transport tickets from. With the basics safely under your belt, you’ll slowly become more adventurous and venture further afield. If your new home is not an English-speaking country, then you’ll need to start practicing your new language fairly quickly.
You’ll be surprised how accommodating people are simply because you’ve made the effort to at least try and speak their language, so make the effort early on and your perseverance will be rewarded. You will also need to register at a doctor or dentist fairly quickly. The last thing you need is to require medical assistance without anywhere to go. Check out if your employer provides medical insurance along with your position and how to claim back expenses.
There are many challenges in working abroad and the learning curve can be steep but one thing you’ll need to get to grips with fairly on are different working practices and cultural differences. If, for example, you’re working in Japan, be prepared for the boss to dictate where everyone goes for lunch and what gets ordered. If you’re working in some European countries, lunch won’t be a quick sandwich at your desk but several courses and a glass of wine. It can be hard to get used to the different way things are done but ultimately the learning experience is a great way to learn how to adapt to different and unfamiliar situations.
The other great benefit, of course, is the chance to meet new people and try out new things. If you’re heading into Europe perhaps it might be your first winter spent hitting the slopes for some weekend skiing or snowboarding. Learning from scratch or brushing up your techniques, you’ll be the envy of all your friends back home. If you’re in somewhere like Singapore, use it as the perfect base for exploring neighboring Malaysia or hop on a short flight to Thailand, Vietnam or Cambodia. Make every moment count and plan trips across a region that you might otherwise never have the opportunity to come back to again.
Another amazing plus about working outside your home country is the people you’re going to meet. You’ll find yourself bonding with a huge range of people from all backgrounds over a shared sense of humor, experiences of getting things wrong and muddled up and, naturally, a little bit of shared homesickness.
Friends For Life
These people often feel like family, particularly when you are so far away from yours. But there’s no need to fear losing contact with those back home, you’ll be surprised about how many people want to come and visit you, especially if you’ve moved somewhere far. You also have the benefit of constant messaging services such as WhatsApp and of course Skype to stay in touch with your loved ones. The time difference can be a hurdle but with some careful planning, you’ll find a way of making it work.
No one said moving and working abroad would be the easiest decision to make but the benefits run deeper than just getting a better job or a little more money. Live in a new culture and you’ll experience things that you just don’t get as a tourist. You’ll get to the heart of a country and grow to love and hate all the quirks and foibles of your new city, just as the locals do. You’ll pick up a new language that will stay with you for life and you’ll make friends that become as close as family as you tackle seemingly impenetrable bureaucracy together.
Sure, it takes a little while to get things organized. Even if you don’t have a family to bring with you, you’ll need to decide what to do with your own home and you’ll need to prepare friends and family for your decision. If you are traveling with children, then you have the added layer of finding a great nursery or school for them, taking into account cost and your working arrangements. But once all the red tape and organizing has been taken care of, you’ll find yourself free to live, explore, work and experience a brand-new way of living that might just be what you’ve needed all along. You only live once so give working abroad a try and unlock adventure.