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Living Abroad

Tips for Transitioning Overseas

Part of a successful transition depends on how well you get ready for the new adventure that awaits.

Genet Jeanjean, co-founder and director of BusinesSpeak, Inc., a language training and development company, has studied with the world's leading experts on how adults learn English. She says that how well Americans will learn and assimilate is directly related to their readiness for challenges and inevitable setbacks: “The core of learning is dependent on the expectation level of the person. He or she needs to recognize there will be challenges, and that persistence and patience are essential.”

In Survival Kit for Overseas Living: For Americans Planning to Live and Work Abroad, L. Robert Kohls notes that for successful adjustment to living overseas it is critical to keep an open mind and avoid stereotypes. Easier said than done perhaps, but in order to thrive you need to remember others also may have stereotyped you as an American. The stereotypes themselves may result in miscommunication and misinformation. It’s important to be aware of how you view others and how in turn they view you.

In addition to avoiding stereotypes, there are cultural differences to learn. By talking to people who have “been there, done that,” you’ll gain cultural insights even before you go.

Another notable site for contacting Americans overseas is www.fawco.org, the federation of American Women’s Clubs Overseas, an international network of 74 independent clubs with a combined membership of more than 17,000 women in 33 countries worldwide. This support network for American women living and working abroad is particularly active in the fields of U.S. citizens' concerns.

For Additional Information Read

Culture Shock! Successful Living Abroad: Living and Working Abroad by Monica Rabe (1997, Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co.).

Overseas Americans : The Essential Guide To Living And Working Abroad by William Beaver (Paladin Press; Illustrated edition, July 2001). This book provides an annotated list of the 100 most helpful web sites for Americans abroad.