The complexities of moving to a new culture are immense.  Typically, executive expatriate training programs include a cross-cultural component.  However, there are other things that executives should consider to help ensure (them and their family) have a smooth relocation.  The article below provides a starting point of other things, that executives and there families can do to help them settle in quicker.

Language – Conversation Topics For Executives

It goes without saying that when moving to a different country, it’s necessary for both the executive expatriate, and their family to learn the local language. Executives and their families should treat this as an exciting opportunity to develop new skills and not necessarily be daunted by this prospect.

Even when moving to another country that speaks the same language as at home, it can still feel like learning a new language. For example, Australian’s use quite a lot of slang and those coming from other countries may struggle at first because they will not have heard of certain terms before.

Beyond the basic language skills, though, there should be training on conversation topics that might be considered taboo, or that are a normal part of the culture.   Not knowing these topics could lead to the executive expatriate and their family feeling left out.

For example, in Australia sport (especially Australian Football League) is a massive topic of conversation. So having a little bit of background knowledge can be very useful on this topic. As you start to integrate into our society you may even decide to choose a team to support. (And you will find that everyone will try and encourage you to support their chosen team). Football is big business in Australia and being able to discuss this topic would be useful.

On a separate note, I would highly recommend you attend a game whilst in Australia, so you can experience the game and the atmosphere that has captured the hearts of so many Australians.

Food – What You’ll Find and What You’ll Eat

An executive relocating from say the USA or UK, you won’t really find that many differences with regards to the sorts of foods serviced here.

However, if you are an executive that is relocating from Hong Kong or Singapore you might notice more differences with regards to food choices.

It’s essential to understand two aspects of food – what you will find, and what you will not. Most of us have our “comfort foods”.   Thinking of several different cultures, comfort foods could be dishes such as our Sunday roast, fish-and-chips, spaghetti Bolognese, tacos, Vegemite, or kimchi.  If you’re moving someplace where your favourite foods aren’t available, outside of an expensive import, the inability to find them during a challenging period could be disappointing for an expatriate.   Especially if they are spending a traditional holiday away from friends and family, being able to find typical holiday foods can make the difference between a bout of depression and creating a new tradition.

Conversely, there will be new foods to try.  Therefore, it’s critical that executive expatriates are happy to both sample new foods, and also know where you can find comfort foods, if available.

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