Our ultimate goal at Career Hack is to send millions of Gen Yers abroad to launch international careers and businesses.

It would be irresponsible of us, however, to not play Devil’s Advocate and give you the lowdown on the less attractive aspects of going to live and work abroad. Here are our five main reasons why you might not want to pursue an international career.

Culture Shock and Linguistic Barriers

“Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages”

-Dave Barry

People and life in foreign countries will be foreign to you. This sounds snarky but you would be amazed at how often Americans are taken aback by the poorer quality of service abroad and – GASP – that some people do not speak English!

The way you bank, socialize, and pay your rent will often be confusing. You will have to wait longer to receive service. You will have to learn to speak foreign languages, at least to some degree, to manage your daily affairs.

The linguistic barrier is nowhere near the worst aspect of change in your life. In fact, many people would find that a pleasant challenge to be overcome.

You will get hit by culture shock in varying degrees, depending on specifically where you go. You’ll see kids in China urinating on the street in very public areas, such as in front of the WWII monument on the Bund in Shanghai. Drunken Korean businessmen in suits will stumble into your local internet cafe and chain-smoke while playing Starcraft 2 for several hours, before promptly falling asleep in a soju-induced coma until sunrise. You could get robbed at gunpoint in Colombia. You might see Indian children in Mumbai playing in massive piles of garbage as if they were on a tonka swing set. If you aren’t ready to be pushed out of your comfort zone and see the inexplicable, shocking, and absurd, you might not be fit for an emerging market career.

Distance from Friends and Family

By definition, you will be physically isolated from your loved ones, assuming all of your loved ones live in your city/town of origin. Everyone who ventures abroad, without fail, experiences pangs of homesickness to varying degrees. If you are unable to picture yourself being so far away from your loved ones for such a long period of time, you may need to reconsider whether a move abroad is right for you.

Visa Hassles

If I could remove one element of inconvenience from my own life as a mobile expat entrepreneur, it would definitely be having to constantly worry about the visa shuffle. Throughout every phase of your life as an expat careerist or entrepreneur, you will have to constantly be worrying about when your passport and visa are going to expire, when to renew, and when to go on visa runs. It is a frequent reminder that you are, in fact, a guest in their country and that they can deport you at any time they want.

Skewed Dating and Social Scene

This varies by country, gender, and race. We have never heard an American or European man complain about the dating scene in Asia or Latin America. In contrast, we have heard less-than-enthusiastic feedback from American/Western women about the dating scene outside of North America and Europe. This topic is highly subjective but moving abroad to a new country can either massively improve or dramatically reduce your opportunities for dating.

Lack of Career Templates

NYU Stern > Investment Banking > MBA > Private Equity

Cornell Pre-Med > Medical School > Residency > Doctor

Penn State > Law School > Paralegal > Lawyer

Many people fear blazing a trail because they fear the unknown. The college student who goes to work for a startup in Vietnam or for the US chamber of commerce in Seoul is not following a well defined “career template” and therefore it’s unclear where he or she may end up.

However, this can also be a benefit. Few have blazed this trail in the past so you might uncover grand opportunities that few others have been able to take advantage of.

Find Opportunities

 


  • jahz

    One very important thing that you didn’t mention is with regards to legal systems. Countries with outdated (corrupt) judicial systems, esp. those using Inquisitorial systems are a recipe for problems for some foreign business people because they work on a platform of bribes, patronage and cronyism–much worse than the corrupt legal system in the U.S. No property rights, no adherence to international copyright law, etc.

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