• Steps to Adapting to Working and Living Abroad – Part 2

    By Jill Arcaro Gordon

    What are you doing to achieve your dream? How can you make it happen? By actively embracing your goals with calm clarity, you can create a new standard which will give you different, and better results, in every aspect of your life.

    Working and Living Abroad

    Below are two more (of many), helpful tips you can adopt to strengthen your clarity and use that state to develop greater personal fulfillment abroad.

    If you have the luck to be on an extended stay in an international atmosphere whether for interning or studying, as icing on the cake I follow up my first blog on the subject with two more tips as promised, to facilitate your transition to living, learning and growing abroad.
    Living Abroad


    Step Four: Take Responsibility for Your Transition

    Drawing from my experience in helping many international students to adapt to both living and working abroad since 1990, and having been myself an international student in Italy and a volunteer in Thailand, the first and perhaps the hardest truth is that all the responsibility for transitioning is exclusively yours. “Be the change you want to see in the world” (Gandhi) and do not expect any special attention. One must align with one’s own desires by confronting contrast to expectations with positive thinking, discretion in language and affirmative action.

    The following are two anecdotal cases at hand to illustrate my point. One successful intern who worked with us liked to counsel prospective participants about housing options in Europe, “Double beds are not often the case in student accommodation here and the singles can be smaller than what you might expect. I would suggest, even though linens are included, to bring at least one pair of your own sheets for hygiene and comfort, especially if you plan to travel”.

    Compare this with a disappointed and complaining student’s comments, “The bed was uncomfortable and you should have tried them out when you visited the apartments before our arrival”. The second student was inconsolable. The language was critical and judgmental while the first adjusted easily and helped others to adjust as well.


    Step Five: The Pre-Paving Technique

    When I asked Joseph Fissore, at this time a successful finance intern in Madrid, his advice for upcoming participants he recommended getting to know as much as you can about your destination city before arriving and having a precise intention about what you expect from the relationship.

    Living AbroadThis is excellent advice which can be carried out with ease by adopting my second tip to be started pre-arrival. I call it the pre-paving technique. As a form of visualization, it based on the idea that every subject is in reality two issues, the positive (what you aspire) and the negative (the absence of it). You can prepare your stay by making a list of all the positive aspects abroad (internship, the lodging, the classes, the social life, the journey, etc.) and not paying attention to any other ideas. It is good to make this list as affirmations in the present tense. For a participant coming to Spain to teach English the following are some examples.

    • I am a natural when it comes to learning new things.
    • Learning/Teaching Spanish/English is easy.
    • I effortlessly pick up new Spanish words.
    • I love what I do and I do what I love.
    • I am open to different people and cultures.
    • I am sensitive to what others need and want in the classroom.


    Visualization was “discovered” by NASA researchers who realized that the brainwaves of astronauts were the same whether they visualized a routine or actually performed it. Furthermore, when athletes visualize running faster, jumping higher or shooting a perfect basket, they are able to actually perform their “perfect vision” in a real life performance. This technique is the secret to the success of star athletes. Let it be yours! The analogy can be applied to anything you want, to get to the next level in business, studies, personal relationship, everything. Many professionals, firms, and most college sport teams hire psychologists or coaches to teach visualization.

    These 5 steps have brought to you a whiff of the deeper dimension of the question of adapting abroad and have suggested a short guide for creating that future with the certainty that you will NEVER give up on your DREAM. By fortifying your base, you give a fresh, broader meaning to the word “goals”. By recognizing that our “adaptation” depends on our ability to mesh the connection between our interior and exterior worlds we enjoy new tools, new concepts, and positive elements for expansion in life and travel abroad.

    © BEST Programs, 2013 (2nd edition, 2016)

    See Part 1 here.


    Jill Arcaro is a journalist and founder of BEST Programs which has have been lessening the initial shock of living, studying and working in Spain since 1990. Her main interests are non-academically focused education along with culture and well-being. As an American living abroad she knows what it is to live a life true to yourself and not what others necessarily expect of you. You can have a “homebase” situation right when you arrive in your destination country, and do it economically through BEST’s programs. Whatever you would like to do in Spain, Russia, Belgium, Thailand, Cuba, Italy, Colombia or the USA, whether it be interning, working, studying or simply living, BEST can help you or knows who can. Jill is currently in South-East Asia working on a program to enhance the physical and emotional lives of hill tribes, orphans, disabled and elderly people.



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