Working abroad as a businessperson can have a massive impact on your personal life, and maybe also your professional life. Earning in another country can mark the potential of a rewarding international career and network, but there can be risks to it if not considered carefully. Here are the merits and demerits of living and working abroad.
The U-shaped curve of expatriates
McCormick and Chapman, two American researchers, created a curve to show the process of adaptation to a new cultural environment. Initially, expatriates are full of enthusiasm, happy to go to conquer an unknown country. Here, they are at the top of the curve. But quickly, they encounter difficulties and feel frustration – and the decline ensues.
They adopt a negative attitude towards what surrounds them, lose their bearings, and feel frustration and anger. It is in this phase that expatriates may be tempted to give up and return home. The curve goes back if they choose to stay abroad. They find their mark and finally appreciate their new way of life.
Merits and Demerits Of Living and Working Abroad
1. The barriers related to culture
Going abroad also means encountering cultural barriers, coping with the rejection of others, and experiencing cultural loneliness, that is, being in an environment that is not familiar or comfortable.
These barriers may not only have an impact on the productivity and motivation of a businessperson, but also hasten their return. If they get into trouble with the law, they rapidly realize how vulnerable they are as foreigners.
A typical example is that of the notable Russian-born businesswoman, Marsha Lazareva, who was recently sentenced to ten years of hard labor in Kuwait. In Lazareva’s conviction, she was found guilty of the misappropriation of funds. She was denied permission to return to the U.S with her 5-year-old child.
2. The risk of not finding what you are looking for
One of the most significant risks in working abroad is not finding what you are looking for. It is not uncommon to see young people leave their work and their way of life, thinking that expatriation will bring them a better quality of life.
The surprise can be great when they find themselves in jobs that are not related to their skills. When they realize that their pay and career prospects are not what they had expected, serious disillusionment can set in.
3. Complicated administrative procedures
Some countries do not make it easy for foreigners to come in to work. They place significant barriers to entry.
When arriving in a foreign country, it is not always easy to obtain a visa, work permit, or even a home. Medical insurance can be extremely or even prohibitively expensive.
4. Disillusions and mirage of the Eldorado
There is a risk of experiencing a growing feeling of isolation and lonileness when expatriates struggle with the country’s language and find it hard to make friends.
While abroad, coping with illness, a death in the family, and other unpleasant or tragic events can be extremely challenging.
Government websites, newspapers, and other media may give an unrealistic impression of a country. Immigrants often comment that they found it much harder to find a job that matched their skills than they had expected.
Another common problem is returning to their home country. Expatriates who have to return because of a family problem or expired visa may find it difficult to settle down. This is especially the case if somebody has been away for a long time.
It is not unusual for people to perceive their native country as no man’s land, i.e., neither home nor foreign territory. This feeling can play havoc with their sense of identity.
5. The success stories of expatriation
Don’t be put off by all these negative stories. Like anything in life, there are pros as well as cons. Many people have gone to work abroad, loved it, and thrived. Fortunately, there are many success stories among expatriates.
Some have founded major companies while others have won prestigious prizes and awards. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for example, who left Austria for the United States, eventually became Governor of California. He succeeded in three careers: 1. Bodybuilding. 2. Acting. 3. Politics.
Stay safe abroad!
In the world of employment, having worked overseas is great for your resume. If you managed to learn a foreign language, that is another skill you can add to your list. Beware of nurturing romantic and unrealistic memories of home. If you return one day, you may be disappointed.