So, you have got the chance to live and work in a foreign country. You are excited and perhaps a little apprehensive and it is perfectly understandable. What are some of the challenges of living and working in a foreign country? Below are some areas to consider before you go.
Housing. Many Australians are used to high quality houses of a certain size, with certain appliances. Finding a good place to stay is often one of the first challenges to overcome. It is all well and good staying in a guesthouse for a short period of time, but for a longer or more permanent stay, your self-contained housing is a must. Finding property in the right area and getting used to the local quirks are some of the challenges that must be overcome. There are plenty of nightmare stories and many fantastic stories, and taking time and getting plenty of advice before heading off, make things easier.
Rules. One of the challenges that many Australians and other people have to overcome when relocating overseas, is that of paperwork and regulations. Some countries have transparent and straightforward process and others do not. Getting ID cards, opening bank accounts and even registering for tax, are often hurdles that must be crossed.
Weather. Don’t expect the weather to be the same as you left behind in Australia. If you are heading to a country, and have only seen holiday snaps or scenic pictures, be prepared to not get that weather all the time. For Australians who are used to warmer climates, adjusting to Europe, especially Northern Europe can be a challenge. But this is all part of the adventure, isn't it?
Social. Socialising and getting to meet people is somewhere high on the list of challenges facing Australians who are heading overseas to start a new life or spend a considerable length of time away from home. Of course meeting local ex-pats is helpful but meeting locals is where the challenge lies. Knowing the places where the locals hang out and how to fit in is something that is not easy.
Family. The biggest challenge for most is missing family and friends back home. It is to be expected, and at first it can be difficult. As time passes by, it becomes easier as new friends are made and life settles down to a new normal.
These 5 things are all usual considerations for relocation, but there is a way to overcome them all with added ease. To address all of the above, apart from the weather of course, the easiest way to settle in and get things sorted is to be able to speak the local language. Having a grasp of the language really does make a difference. Finding a place to stay would be easier as you can ask the locals for their opinions, make enquiries and understand the process much more easily. The same would be true for all the rules and regulations. Socialising becomes a breeze and once you have friends you will find yourself comfortably relocated and ready for your new adventure.
China is booming, it has been for a number of years, and like a small dragon born from an egg, she has now grown, become something remarkable, feared by some and embraced by others. No matter how this dragon is seen, China is a place where business people see some kind of future, some success and continuity or expansion of existing business.
One thing that is for certain with China, is that it has become a place where gaining an advantage, getting in first, or having a shot at trading with a partner in a particular province in a particular field has become more of a challenge. Being the best at what you do and even having the most money is no assurance of doing business, China and Chinese Business have become wary of business and the dragon has become wise.
For the astute, or progressive businessman, there is a way to not so outwit the wizening dragon that China has become, but work with it and become better acquainted. This way is through speaking Chinese and thus being able communicate in their own tongue. It is not that the dragon doesn’t trust those who cannot speak its language, but has more to do with respect, trust and a willingness to work that bit harder for what will inevitably be gain.
A businessman or company who has staff that have taken the time to learn Chinese means that this company is taking China seriously and the dragon commands respect. This Chinese Dragon that we call industry has learnt to respect serious intent over money and even over being number one, that is very often the same one who will throw most money at a deal. The overseas company will be dealing with their Chinese counterparts and while in a growing number of cases these counterparts will speak English and a variety of other languages, speaking in their native tongue will nonetheless instil a level of trust that will go a long way in sweetening the deal or transaction.
Doing business in Chinese and even bilingually reduces the chance of things being lost in translation as this can prove costly. Having an understanding of, and a willingness to learn the language, will ultimately sustain the business transaction and while in the past, the quick buck for a quick win, was seen as good business the wiser and older dragon now understands the error of this.
But it goes further than the board room table and business in China. As is evident in the rest of the world, China does have a social and family element to it. Speaking Chinese opens up social, recreational and those more interpersonal elements of doing business in China. Speaking Chinese makes a person who was once merely a business associate who seemed to care only about his own profits a person of trust who can be introduced to families and be invited to social gatherings. Long term relationships can be formed that provide a solid foundation for doing better business going forward and this all starts with language and a willingness to learn.
China may have become a feared and even fearless dragon, but by speaking the same language as the dragon, means in many ways it can be tamed, and mutual success over an extended period of time can be assured.
So what’s the magic formula to making sure you ace your interview and conveying that you are, in fact, the best person for the job? While there is no one clear answer, we’re betting you that learning a second language will get you there faster. Let’s take a look back at those three important traits that we discussed earlier and how being bilingual (or multilingual!) can help with each and every one of them. Here’s how:
1. The ability to work collaboratively on a team — Learning a new language will increase your level of empathy with others. You’ll learn important differences between various communication and learning styles—the key to working effectively with others or managing any team.
2. The ability to communicate clearly and effectively — Of course, communication is key when learning a new language. You’ll learn important differences between languages and cultural nuances that may only exist in another language but not English. Being bilingual will teach you how to think more creatively about multiple ways to get your main idea across to different audiences.
3. The ability to obtain, process, information and to create ideas — Learning a second language will actually enhance information processing in the brain. We’re serious. Studies show that brains in bilingual individuals have more grey matter than those in monolingual individuals. Grey matter is a major part of your Central Nervous System, which plays a key role in information processing. Additionally, we live in an increasingly globalised age, with an influx of language and cultures infiltrating all major cities. “Knowing multiple languages is important in the professional world for the purpose of international business, cultural understanding, and building good will with a diversity of partners and customers.”
Fluency in more languages, now more than ever, is considered extremely important by many employers. CNN Money has deemed fluency in a foreign language “the hottest job skill” 3. Also, according to them, 25,000 jobs are expected to open up for interpreters and translators between 2010 and 2020.
Getting fluent in another language of course, in addition to helping fast-track your career, fluency in another language comes with some pretty obvious perks. Just picture yourself working remotely, while sunbathing on the Costa del Sol in Spain, or ordering off the menu in Italian and your accent being on point.
And, you know, adding it to your resume and impressing your future employers at an interview doesn’t hurt either. Knowing more than one language will increase the likelihood of getting hired by sharpening the skills that all employers look for, while also opening up many professional opportunities, whether they’re in the states or abroad.
1. “The 10 Skills Employers Most Want In 2015 Graduates.” Forbes.
2. “41 of Google’s Toughest Interview Questions.” Inc.
3. “The Hottest Job Skill Is…” CNN Money.
新年好 / 新年好 (Xīnnián hǎo) New Year Goodness is the most popular Chinese New Year Greeting. Chinese New Year was on the 28th January this year and 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. Apparently, for people born in the Year of the Rooster (1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005), 2017 is considered an auspicious year. People born in a year of the Rooster supposedly are very observant. Hardworking, resourceful, courageous, and talented, Roosters are very confident in themselves. Roosters are always active, amusing, and popular within a crowd. Roosters are talkative, outspoken, frank, open, honest, and loyal individuals. They like to be the centre of attention and always appear attractive and beautiful. Roosters are happiest when they are surrounded by others, whether at a party or just a social gathering. They enjoy the spotlight and will exhibit their charm on any occasion. Roosters expect others to listen to them while they speak, and can become agitated if they don't and can be Vain and boastful. Roosters like to brag about themselves and their accomplishments. Their behaviour of continually seeking the unwavering attention of others annoys people around them at times.
There are a few traditions that go hand in hand with Chinese New Year. One of these is the "red packet and envelope" New Years' gift. Red envelopes or packets are money wrapped in red paper and given to children from their parents, grandparents and others. Chinese people love the colour red and regard it as the symbol of energy, happiness and good luck. Actually, the significance of red packets in hoped to bring more happiness and blessing to the receivers. Hence it is impolite to open a red packet in front of the person who gives you. In China, the red packet is called yasui qian (压岁钱 /yaa-sway chyen/), which means 'suppressing ghosts money'. Those who receive a red packet are wished another year negotiated safely and peacefully.
Chinese believe that, as the Spring Festival is the start of a new year, what you do then will affect your luck in the coming year. There are however many things that you should NOT do.
Don't eat porridge because it brings poverty;
Don't wash your hair because it washes away good luck;
Don't do needle work as it depletes wealth;
Don't say any unlucky words such as "death" as it may bring death;
Don't wash any clothes as it washes away good luck;
Don't sweep as it sweeps away wealth
The Lantern Festival is the last day (traditionally) of China's most important festival, Spring Festival (春节 Chūnjié /chwn-jyeah/ a.k.a. the Chinese New Year festival). After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down.The Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, most people cannot celebrate it with their families, because there is no public holiday for this festival.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and utilising that skill to forward your professional path.