3 Rules For Your First Overseas Posting


Just some things I wish I’d been told before my first trip to live and work overseas. Obviously, it’s fun to experience things and make your own mistakes, learning how not to be completely ripped off during every single monetary interaction is a particular joy that shouldn’t be denied by something as silly as being warned about it. The fact remains that some rules would have been useful.

1. Don’t wear a suit

It looks like you’re trying too hard. Plus everyone will assume you have a real job or hiring powers. We should really have an industry wide ban on formal attire outside of fancy events – people need to tell the difference between businessmen coming in to do business in the country and development types who want to mop up around the edges.

2. If someone says ‘I don’t hang out with expats’, 9 times out of 10, they are a-holes

These people are competitive integraters. Ignoring the obvious prejudice on display, it is generally the statement of someone desperate to prove a point. While they might seem, for a short time, to be cynical and deep and cool, after a while you realise that you’re avoiding their number when you’re looking to have a quiet drink or a spot of dinner of an evening. It’s just too exhausting to be impressed by someone all the time.

3. No one wins when you drink local brew

You’re trying to be polite. You hear that, actually, it’s not too alcoholic so you should be fine. If you don’t drink it you’ll be insulting people. Don’t worry. If you say no, it’s more for everyone else AND you won’t have to deal with your dodgy stomach for the next 4 days.

Any old hands out there with more for us? Stick ’em in the comments please.

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4 thoughts on “3 Rules For Your First Overseas Posting

  1. I think Dr Anne’s “don’t say anything/judge a country until you’ve been there for six months” tip was always rather wise.

  2. I was wearing a suit today and then you post this. Charming.

    • It depends – there are a lot of countries in which formal attire is required for most things. Expats make themselves into jerks by disrespecting the local ideals for dress when they show up in jeans for a meeting with someone of significance.

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