An opportunity to work overseas brings with it the promise of adventure and career advancement. But there are many pitfalls for the unwary. Good preparation will be key to a trouble-free and rewarding experience that you will remember with pride unmixed with regrets. Aside from ensuring that you have all the necessary documentation to work in the country to which you’re headed, here are a few important things to attend to before you set out.
1. Have the Right Health Insurance
You’re confident that everything will go smoothly, but if you experience any health issues, you will need the best international health insurance companies to back you up. You’re looking for comprehensive cover, ease of doing business, and reasonable rates. Knowing that you have access to the best treatment options and trending technologies available will give both you and your loved ones added peace of mind and could save you considerable expense.
2. Investigate Cost of Living and Accommodation
Budgeting before you set out will help you to understand what you can expect of your lifestyle while you’re living overseas. Although it’s always wisest to choose your longer-term accommodation after arrival, knowing more-or-less how much you will need to budget and what types of accommodation are available will be a help.
Questions like whether you can rely on public transport require answers before you set out. With a rough budget in place, you will need to add a margin for the unexpected, but there will be fewer surprises and less potential for upsets if you arrive well-informed.
3. Make Contact With Expat Groups
Getting settled in a strange country isn’t always easy, especially when the language and culture differ significantly from what you’re used to. Expat groups can be very helpful and members will often be especially glad to know a medical professional from their home country.
They are usually happy to share all manner of information you’d otherwise have to learn the hard way. There’s also the opportunity to form a ready-made circle of friends so that you don’t have to go it alone. With expat groups assisting with both practical and social needs, you’ll find it much easier to get settled.
4. Gain a Basic Understanding of the Local Culture
Although we often talk about a “global village,” each country has its own culture, and you might find some of the differences surprising. Although people will be willing to make some allowances because you’re a foreigner, fitting in as well as you can from the start will help you in your work-related and social interactions with locals.
Mastering the basics of local professional and social etiquette will help you to gain respect and acceptance, so do as much reading as you can and get advice from colleagues and contacts from your own country.
In healthcare-related work, extra sensitivity is required. Pay special attention to what is expected from people in your profession: the vocabulary you should use when discussing health-related matters and the expectations of colleagues and patients. For example, in China, the subject of death must be approached with even greater sensitivity than it is in other countries.
5. Be Prepared to Respect Differences and Work With Them
We all like to think that our cultures have found the best way to get things done, and some people are scornful of anything that differs from the way things are back home. If you don’t enter the overseas work experience with an open mind and a willingness to adapt, you will be very unhappy and you may struggle to succeed.
So, while you’re preparing for your adventure, do remember that a little humility and flexibility together with a positive attitude will go a long way towards ensuring your success.