To Work or Not To Work
When you come to a foreign country finding a job might be a challenging task. It all depends on many factors. If you are considering working in your new country, you might also consider why you want to do that. It is one thing when you already have a job that requires you to move overseas. It is a completely different situation when you come to a new country and you decide to find a job there.
When in a foreign environment we want jobs for many reasons: make money; create new connections, learn about the culture; feel fulfilled; gain international corporate experience; apply your knowledge; help others; expand and grow personally. These are all wonderful reasons to look for a job.
However, there are obstacles and soft spots you might consider too.
- Logistics with home and schools if you have children.
- How much effort are you willing to put into looking for a job. It is a process.
- Your commitment to your success at work.
- Your life priorities.
- Your family members or those who depend on you.
- Your time in the country of your assignment.
- Corporate culture of your new employer.
- The culture of the country and working stereotypes.
- Your values, beliefs, and expectations.
If you come to the country following your spouse or partner, who is on assignment from his or her employer, most likely looking for a job for you would be a secondary thought to consider. You are already busy with settling into the life in a new culture. However, you certainly might look for the job opportunities and there are numerous options for you to stay busy and fulfilled without doing habitual 9-6 work hours.
- Work from home (consulting; coaching; designing; writing; teaching; tutoring, etc.).
- Clubs/church membership (Toastmasters, International women’s club, book club, Embassy events).
- Your hobbies (sports; gym; needle work; crafts; yoga; gardening; woodwork; horseback riding; etc.).
- Taking courses at the college or on-line.
- Sharpen your sword. (get better at your profession)
- Learn the language of the country you are in.
- Learn the crafts/history of the new culture.
- Write a blog/book.
- Plan trips; events; dinners.
- Learn new cooking recipes/local cuisine.
When I was going to Turkmenistan for our second long-term assignment in the same country, I already knew what to expect. I knew the country, I knew the traditions. I was going there with an experience of a world traveler. I was pretty excited to live in Ashgabat again and have an opportunity to actually enjoy the culture, not just survive. Little did I know that a new challenge waited for me there. I decided to get a job.
Being an American certified teacher, I was exhilarated when an opportunity to work as a full-time teacher in the international school was presented to me. I was very successful starting and organizing my new class of preschoolers. That was exactly what I needed and wanted to do. I had 18 little students from Turkey, France, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, USA, Turkmenistan, Moldova. Most of them spoke English as their second or third language. Majority of my students were in school for the first time in their lives. I had three local assistants who adored me, and worked diligently in the classroom. My children were happy to come to school every morning. The parents trusted me and were extremely grateful, seeing their children learning, maturing, and having great time. Unfortunately, this level of success was not accepted by the school administration. I chose to fight for my place under the sun.
In retrospect, I still do not know what would have been the right thing for me to do. I just know in that fight, I failed my role as a mother and wife; I failed my health; I failed the opportunity to enjoy Turkmenistan, and see a better part of it. I was loyal to my student families who trusted me with their best they had – children. The thought of closing one door to see that seven more are open, did not come to my mind then. I clung to that job, when I should have probably left it to save myself and my dignity.
Whatever you do, remember this is your life. You are in this place to live your beautiful, fulfilled life. Do what makes you feel good, on track, on a mission. There is no struggle, only inspired action. You are fortunate to have this experience, enjoy it. You can make it meaningful, you deserve to be happy no matter where you are and what you do. Make this a priority, make it work for you. A happy person creates a happy world no matter how large it may be, and this is your goal being a world traveler.
Life is a journey of joy. Embrace it!
Beautiful insightful writing, Lena! Thanks for taking time and sharing your experience! ❤
you are very welcome. Have a beautiful day!