With so many jobs moving overseas, people are traveling from the comforts of their home, culture, and familiar environment into the unknown. Often, people are catapulted into an environment that is very different and diverse from their home culture. The greatest concern for these individuals is to adjust quickly to the new culture.
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Cultural differences may be vast. They usually include language, customs, political organizations, and religion, just to name a few.
Another difficulty about jobs moving overseas is stereotypes. Everyone forms their own mental picture or view of others. Many times, it is hard to look past these preconceived ideas about other cultures. It is important, however, to be open-minded about the new culture. Likewise, it may be equally important to make an extra effort to avoid being classified by others as a stereotype. Americans, for instance, are often looked at as being immature, wasteful, ignorant, informal, and loud. Obviously, this is not always the case.
Educate yourself about the new country. Learn about the language, cultural differences, and other key aspects of the area. Ask colleagues about their experiences overseas, read books about the country, or watch movies about the culture to soak up as much information as possible. It can be helpful to contact the consulate or embassy of the country. These resources can be very helpful in the process of cultural adjustment. Taking advantage of such resources will provide valuable insight.
Communication is very important. Learning key phrases of the native language can be extremely beneficial. Be aware that there are polite forms of address, as well as, familiar forms. Expect to make mistakes while learning a new language, but the effort to learn the native tongue will be viewed in a positive light.
Nonverbal communication is equally as important as learning the language. There is evidence to indicate that nonverbal communication such as hand gestures and facial expressions account for 90% of communication. For instance, the hand gesture signifying okay in the U.S. is the forefinger and thumb making a circle and three fingers in the air. This same gesture in Brazil is a profanity. Avoid such mistakes by getting a feel for social customs.
Don’t be surprised if culture shock sets in soon after arrival to the new country. Anxiety and disorientation is very common to newcomers in a foreign country. It is important to connect with other transplants, coworkers, etc. Assimilate through clubs, school, or places of worship to ease the culture shock. Look online for articles in about current issues in the home country. Reading books, magazines, or newspapers in your native tongue can really help.
As jobs continue to have workers moving overseas, issues relating to cultural adjustment will be important. Learn about the foreign land.
Verbal and nonverbal communication is important. Avoid prolonged culture shock by assimilating with others and sharing experiences.
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