Working abroad may sound like a dream job, but it’s not for everyone. Living and working in another country comes with a unique set of challenges. You’ll need more than technical skills to cut it as an expat. Check out the traits expats need to transform their wanderlust into a successful relocation.
Being interested in and excited about new cultures is essential. If you have a passion for meeting new people and an urge to learn about the world, you’re more likely to be happy living abroad.
2. Emotional Intelligence
Being emotionally intelligent means that you can discern how others are feeling and use that information to guide your own behavior. If you want to be an expat, you should be able to read different social cues and non-verbal communication and asses how your own personality comes across to others.
3. Extreme Organization
If tax season sends you in a tizzy, expat life may not be for you. As an American expat, you need to be able to balance multiple tax systems, work within two bureaucracies, and stay on top of your visa paperwork.
4. Cultural Adaptability
A cross-cultural experience may sound like a breeze, but your family trip to Europe 10 years ago won’t prepare you to settle into a completely new environment. To move to another country, you’ll have to be tolerant and respectful of new people and adapt to new cultural norms to fit in.
5. Language Skills
Being able to communicate in the language of your new home is important, even if you’re mostly communicating in your native tongue.
Don’t worry about being fluent right away — picking up some key phrases can help with everything from landing an overseas opportunity to developing relationships with locals.
Every country has a unique way of doing things, and expats should be willing to cope with the traditions of those around them. If the country you’re working in doesn’t value punctuality, be flexible if people are late to a meeting. Stay calm and let matters follow their course.
The most successful expats know how to command a room, no matter where that room is. If you aren’t a natural leader, try some strategies to help you catch up. Mimic the strong leaders in your life, practice effective communication, and become an expert in both your industry and your adopted home.
Last but certainly not least, patience is a virtue when it comes to expatriating. Things aren’t always as fast moving in other cultures or when working across borders. Don’t rush yourself when it comes to adjusting and don’t rush others if they operate differently than you’re used to.