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Be Ready, Don’t Assume Anything

 Assumptions & Expectations

The best advice to be given as an expatriate is “don’t assume anything.” As you prepare to venture into this new experience as an expat or an international traveler, it is important to understand that everything you were accustomed to at home may or may not apply. So, make no assumptions about your new experience and try to embrace change with open eyes. The same goes for expectations. It is best to have little or no expectations, because when you remove your expectations, you create room for an experience to take place. Expectations limit you to the results you have anticipated.  When living and/or traveling abroad, all your experiences are so vast that to expect a certain result only hinders your opportunities.

Do not assume…

  • The food will be gross.  Eat it and if it happens to be gross, you never have to eat it again.
  • That all people do things like Americans.  Every country and culture has their own ways of doing things. Take this time to learn something about the country and customs of the people living there.
  • That the people of your host country understand your gestures. Remember that sign language in not universal and some gestures can get you into a world of trouble.
  • That everyone understands your requirement for personal space.  Most Americans are comfortable with an arm’s length distance when interfacing others, yet many other countries are communal and have no idea that space can be personal. Personal space is something you may just need to get over.


Remove your expectations…

  • Do not expect time to mean the same as it does in America. There are low context cultures and high context cultures and in high context cultures, people are relational, collective in their thinking and actions, tend to share most things, and time is spacious and very relaxed. However, in most low context cultures like America, people are more independent, outspoken, reserved in their giving and time is of the essence.
  • Do not expect to have the same conveniences of life. In a few countries, you might be very shocked or surprised at how convenient life is. Some countries have greater technological advancements than that of America; but on the other hand, there many countries that are not as advanced or convenient. When in Rome do as the Romans!
  • Do not expect everyone to have the same manners. Yes, we know that you have been taught to say “thank you,” “please,” and “excuse me.” However, there is no such thing as “common courtesy.”  Courtesy is not always common in many countries, and that does not make the country or the people rude, just different.

What have you been assuming? What expectations have you had that you either carried with you, or that have prevented you from going places?

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