John Mason +44 (0)151 449 3938 International House 35 Wilson Road Huyton Business Park $$$

Moving Advice

Cultural Awareness when Living Abroad

Cultural awareness when living abroad is often a key factor in the success of any relocation, particularly if the culture you are moving to is very different to your own. Cultural awareness training is often included in many employee relocation programmes to ensure a smooth transition in the destination country and to help the employee feel at ease in their new surroundings. Cultural awareness training is often provided for the whole family also as it can greatly reduce the risk of culture shock for new arrivals.

Understanding Cultural Awareness when Living Abroad

Apart from possible language differences, living in a culture which is very different to your own can present its own challenges. Social cues, body language, unspoken and often unwritten rules of behaviour in a culture often take time to learn and understand. Taking a cultural awareness course specific to your destination country or researching it yourself can often help in this situation. This is particularly important in environments when knowing the right customs and norms can greatly help new business relationships.

Having cultural awareness when living abroad is often described as peeling an onion, there are many layers to a country’s culture and it is important to understand all the layers including what you are generally likely to see and hear when you arrive, the local laws and regulations and the core of a society including its key values. In some cases, it will be necessary to understand a country’s culture as a whole and also the sub-culture of a specific city where there may be subtle but important differences.

Cross-Cultural Communication

One theory of cultural awareness when living abroad is that there are three stages to good cross-cultural communication:

Awareness: understanding the concept of culture

Knowledge: information about a specific country’s culture in comparison to your native culture or current culture

Skill:  learning the skill of applying cultural knowledge to the appropriate circumstances and daily interactions.

Even cultures that you perceive to be similar to your own, may surprise you when you are actually living there. The general pace of life, relationships with time or dress codes may be different to what you imagined or experienced when visiting previously on holiday for example.

Cultural Dimensions

It is also worth reading about cultural dimensions such as those identified by the author Geert Hofstede such as power distance, individualism, long term orientation, indulgence and masculinity in a society. Cultures with a high rating of collectivism, such as Japan for example, mean people are generally concerned with the ‘we’ and tend to focus on group goals and efforts. Countries such as the USA for example, tend to have a focus on individualism and the attainment of individual goals. This can be important to understand when managing a team and understanding various motivations within a group.

Useful Links

It can be hard to find time to study cultural awareness when living abroad so it is a great idea to do as much research as possible before you depart.  Some useful websites to look at include the following:

Mind Tools: Cross Cultural Communication

Geert Hofstede

Internations: Cross-Cultural Communication

When You Arrive

When you arrive, it’s important also to immerse yourself in your new culture and learn as much as you can. What are the typical foods of the country? How do people spend their free time? What kind of music is popular? Why not try cooking a local dish yourself or going to a concert or dance show typical of the region. Meeting as many people from the new culture will of course also greatly help and increase your cultural competence and cultural awareness when living abroad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

International Removals

Four things you should consider before you agree to relocate to another country for work

9 October 2018

News

Emigration Generation: Poll Reveals Brexit as Top Reason for Brits Wanting to Retire Abroad

1 October 2018

Australia

10 reasons to move to Australia

24 September 2018

USA

Why go Stateside? The benefits of moving to the USA from the UK

18 September 2018

New Zealand

Why moving to New Zealand will be good for your health

10 September 2018

News

Out of this world! We’ve launched a shipping container into Space

5 September 2018

Our Credentials

As one of the leading providers of overseas removals on a national and international scale, we pride ourselves on providing a professional and friendly service from our highly trained and competent team. We have been recognised by the networks below and we are, therefore, proud of our credentials.

Some of our Customer Reviews

From the initial meeting to the pack up John Mason were both friendly and professional. We have already recommended them to friends, we don’t hesitate to recommend them for your move.

Surrey, UK to Auckland, New Zealand - June 2018

My whole experience with John Mason's has been very good, from having Tony surveying till today with the container being packed, I will definitely recommend John Mason to provide removal services.

M.H. South Shields, UK to Perth, Australia – May 2018

Absolutely one of the best movers I have worked with. Pleasant helpful admin staff and the delivery drivers were absolute angels sorting and moving the boxes where I asked them to. Arrived exactly when they said it would.

Selby, UK to Sydney, Australia - April 2018

Read more independent reviews about us on TrustPilot