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Relocating: Adapting to a New Country

June 15, 2017

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Preparing to start a new job often makes you feel as nervous as it does excited, but when that job is taking you abroad those emotions can be doubled. Not only are you leaving behind friends and family, you are travelling overseas to a place where an aeroplane is your only transport home. This also means you are leaving behind life as you know it and therefore you have the added pressure of having to adapt to a new way of life.

While the job roles through NES Global Talent can enable you to travel and explore the world as you work, especially if you are on assignments, this could also require you to adapt to somewhere new on a fairly regular basis.  

This may be worlds apart from the one you knew at home - first there is likely to be a language barrier, the culture could be the very opposite of what you know, there may be rules you must adhere to that weren't in place in your own country, and in some instances it might not be as safe as it was back home. Alongside the bigger changes there are the other less significant things that you might not have considered – such as having to get used to a new diet due to the different cuisine available to you.

Jonathan Garbett from London, who took the 11-hour plane ride over to South Korea in February to start his first assignment - expected to be just under a year long - described what it was like adapting to a new way of life so far from home.

“I have been subcontracted to work as an Assembly Scope Coordinator within the Mechanical discipline on the construction phase of the Project  in South Korea,” Jonathan explained. “I am working with Suppliers and the Contractor  to ensure the scope of assembly work is understood and to coordinate daily challenges and queries that arise. The project is the largest Norwegian Oil & Gas project in a generation and I have worked on all the phases from Concept, FEED, Detail Design and now Construction. It is a fantastic opportunity for me to be part of a project from start to finish.”

He goes on: “I naturally had some concerns about leaving behind family and friends and the life that I was enjoying but an opportunity like this doesn’t come around very often so I had to take it!”

Although a far cry from neighbouring North Korea, the Southern half of the Korean Peninsula is, in many ways, very different to the life Jonathan knew back in London. He explained: “South Korea is a developed economy so they have all the amenities you would expect. But there are many challenges that you must overcome - the language barrier for starters - so a translating app helps a lot but other times you need to rely on pictures. Navigating the supermarket is a cultural shock, the diet is different so there are new and sometimes strange products. And be prepared for the price difference. Simple items which are cheap at home are very expensive here.”

Jonathan, who made the move with his wife, continued: “Expat life is different in the sense that your work colleagues are more important as your friends outside of work. There are some cultural differences which you have to get used to but cultural awareness training helps in that regard. You can feel the American influence here, especially in the big cities. At the beginning, it is hard to adapt to these challenges, for example Google Maps doesn’t work here but you get around that and eventually learn the necessities.”

And there are, of course, some positive changes. Jonathan said: “The people are friendly, there are definite seasons here which is nice to enjoy and it’s interesting to experience living in another country.”  

To help you adapt to your new life, Jonathan explains that it is important to have everything taken care of back at home: “There is a lot of admin to go through so be proactive in getting it done in good time. Taking care of responsibilities and obligations at home, such as packing up our flat and renting it out and clearing any outstanding items that may have been on the to-do list for a while. Make sure you leave with everything taken care of.”

He continued: “Stock up on everything you need such as your preferred toiletries and replace anything you feel is past its best before going such as electronics or clothes. Don’t underestimate how convenient shopping at home is. Depending on where you are moving to it will take some time to figure out how to find what you need, for example Asian lifestyles, tastes and diets are different to Europeans so finding some home comforts will be challenging.”  

His advice to those about to embark on their own journey across seas?

“Keep an open mind and be willing to learn. Don’t be put off by the challenges and be prepared for cultural differences. Following that enjoy the location you’re moving to and take it as an opportunity to explore a new part of the world. Don’t be surprised if it takes up to two months to fully settle. It is a big change.”

It can be daunting moving when that moves takes you a few hours across the same country - but when it takes you overseas, so far away from your home comforts, it can be scary and perhaps something you are worried about - especially if you are making that move with a family who will have to adapt to it too. But it is also an exciting opportunity to experience a new culture and a new way of life and NES make it as easy as possible for you….  

At NES Global Talent, we offer a comprehensive range of staffing solutions ensuring we provide a complete end-to-end people management service.

This includes:

  • Assistance in obtaining visas and general travel services
  • In-country orientation and airport welcomes
  • Accommodation services
  • Health and safety support
  • Security support (if required)
  • Expat concierge
  • Payroll administration
  • 100% compliant taxation system (all locations)
  • Insurance provision
  • Pre-move and relocation assistance
  • Compliance services

No matter what job you are looking for, be that a Scrum Master in the Netherlands or a Site Master in Sydney, you can be safe in the knowledge that you aren’t making such a huge move on your own. Someone will be there, supporting you - every step of the way.