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October 05, 2014

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Ray Campbell

A couple of more thoughts. 1) In most expat heavy locations, there are groups - often oriented around trailing spouses - that provide ready made networks and massive amounts of on the ground information. When we lived in Madrid, it was the International Newcomers Club, which I believe is in many locations; here, it is the Shenzen Women's International Club. If you are headed overseas and need to sort out neighborhoods, schooling, realtors, special dietary issues, health care, etc., these can be fantastic resources. They can also provide on the ground mentoring and fellowship for trailing spouses who are largely outside the work group, which can be nice as some trailing spouses can find the whole process more difficult than does someone who arrives to a full set of welcoming colleagues. 2) In some locations, you might want a virtual private network on your computer. In China it's necessary to access certain sites, but in other countries it helps if you want to access resources where copyright or security concerns limit access from overseas - e.g. Amazon streaming (last I checked Netflix sniffed out the VPN and blocked access from outside the US even with one, but not Amazon) and perhaps your bank or credit card company (again, Citi sniffs out the VPN and blocks all access from southeast Asia even with a VPN but apparently not Chase). 3) A little bit of the local language is better than none - even just being able to tell a cab driver to stop or turn left can make a big difference. If you don't have the language already, getting a start before you come can speed things up if you arrive, but you will need to be sure that you get the pronunciation right from the beginning so you don't spend hours drilling yourself on the wrong way to pronounce things.

Jeff Redding

Ray: Thanks for your comments. I would particularly endorse learning some of the local language(s) before arriving. Germany was the only country for which I didn't do that and I struggled linguistically for that. English is not as common as purported.

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