It’s exciting to discover a whole new world as a fresh graduate. Expose yourself to opportunity!
As the world becomes increasingly globalized, more people want to live abroad. Living abroad provides many benefits such as understanding other cultures, traveling to beautiful places, and personal growth.
Nevertheless, there are things to consider to get the most out of the trip. As an Employer Relations Intern at the UO Career Center, I had the opportunity to meet and interview Chris Crow, the Urban Development Analyst at the World Bank. He is an American currently stationed in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Before working at the World Bank, Chris had a lot of experiences. He took a break after high school before he continued to study at Western Washington University. He worked low-paying jobs in between high school and college. This experience taught him about the importance of getting a college degree. After completing his undergraduate degree, he mentioned, “I knew for a long time I wanted to work internationally and contribute to overcoming poverty.” Therefore, he went to Johns Hopkins to study a Master’s in International Development. Later. he had a chance to work at the World Bank, where he was offered the job in Indonesia.
He already had experience living in Indonesia during college through the Fulbright Program, where he volunteered to teach English to the local people in Indonesia. Even though he was familiar with the country already, he still faced some culture shock in the professional world. For example, once he was too direct about his opinion to his supervisor in a meeting. As a result, he created an uncomfortable situation because of the difference in culture norms.
Because of the culture shocks he experienced, he advises Americans who are trying to work abroad to be teachable, and make observations to gain the knowledge around. Before leaving the country, research that specific country. Once there, the “dynamic is going to be different and more difficult to read,” but he encourages Americans to ask locals humble questions about international dynamics. One of the most important skills he gained was the language. He believes people appreciate him better when he speaks the local language. In Indonesia, people feel appreciated when foreigners learn about their culture. Therefore, speaking the basic language makes you more likeable and respected, so that the locals can be more open to you. Chris stated, “Learn about the language, and try to speak it; push yourself outside of your comfort zone every day, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes”.
Lastly, have fun and make friends! “Let people know that you are interested in what they are doing.” Make international friends because living abroad is such a great opportunity if you know how to make the most out of it. Chris even mentioned that real professional networks come from strong friendships: “sometimes because you are friends with people, you know that they are the kind of people you want to work with.”
As a result, if you decide that you are going to work abroad, do research and learn about the culture. It’s okay to be a nervous, but don’t forget to be enthusiastic! Not everybody has the opportunity to do so. Be thankful of where life has taken you. Keep learning and know that some exciting experiences are ahead of you!
If you want to learn more and are interested in living abroad, the UO has resources that help Ducks study, volunteer, and intern abroad through GEO program. If you want to stay for a longer duration and fully emerge in the country, consider joining Peace Corps!
Peace Corps is a proud partner of UO. Learn more by checking out its website, peacecorps.gov. We also have the Peace Corps GE here, Nicky Ulrich. Go to her drop-in hours on Wednesdays from 12:00–2:00 p.m. at the UO Career Center 220 Hendricks Hall.
By Sonia Herman, Employer Relations Intern