Well, if you have to go straight to Google Maps after the prospect of India is mentioned, then the second thing you do is say “Holy Sh*t, India is right next to Pakistan,” well then you and I have something in common and we started in the same exact place. (Of course, now that I know the history of this part of the world that was a pretty silly thing to say, but I did go to school in U.S. and it is kind of a bubble at times).
When you are making a decision like this … “Should I give up basically everything I know as my current reality and move to India?” … naturally, a million thoughts are going through your head, and once you start talking to people, you will receive opinions on the subject from just about everyone in your life. In my experience, the opinions were very black and white from, and I quote, “why the “f” would you want to go to India?” (and this was the reaction of about 40% of the people) and the other half, “you have to go, you don’t have a choice, this is too cool of an opportunity, do you need help packing?”.
Many people asked me, “what about kids, a husband, etc. Don’t you want that?” I thought this was a particularly interesting question to ask me or to even bring up at the prospect of getting an opportunity to live and work in a foreign country. I usually just laughed off this question, but I am not going to lie, it did make me think a bit; should I be asking myself this same question? To which I quickly answered, “no.”
Be prepared, if you have never worked abroad, that living and working in a foreign country is going to be extremely difficult, but it will come with rewards that you cannot imagine. I will be a vehicle to show yourself just how strong you are and it will open your mind beyond your imagination … but you have to be committed, and know that you are in for the adventure of your life. You will see a part of the world and things that you could have never imagined, and although your mind will be opened, just as any travel or exposure to a new country would, this will be a bit more extreme and your perceptions of everything will be forever changed.
I gave this decision so much thought, but when it came down to it, all I knew is that I would be on the plane to come here, whether I was ready or not (because, let’s face it, no one is ever ready to move to India). Everyone says “I could never do that” … truly, you can. You just have to do it one step at a time … literally starting with packing, driving to the airport and getting on the plane. The rest will come.
What’s crazy, is that you are going to be so caught up with the excitement and preparations of moving to another country, that you have to remember you will be working there too (oh yeah!) and coming to India on a vacation to meditate at an Ashram is one thing … working and being productive in India is whole other story.
Here are a few questions on a professional level you should make sure you have answered and feel comfortable with before you make your decision (by the way, in India “you take a decision” … See Lost in Translation)
Will you have a representative from your company’s headquarters as a resource? If something goes wrong, will you have someone to assist you from your HQ? In my opinion, it’s important to have a connection to the “mothership” for comfort sake.
Will you be provided with any cultural training? I would highly recommend this. Since there are so many differences from, in my case the U.S. work environment and the Indian work environment. It took me a almost an entire year to even acclimate to the communication styles, work-ethic and basics of how to get things done. Cultural Training on how to work around these obstacles will be extremely helpful in getting you up to speed quicker and help in your eventual success.
Have your co-workers ever worked with anyone from your your country of origin and if not, will there be any resource to help them understand you and your work style? This is something that one of my co-workers told me they would’ve liked to have had as it took him just as long to acclimate to my work style as it did for me to acclimate to his. Team building exercises usually help to better understand communication styles; I would ensure your company will be providing these growth opportunities for you and your team.
What will the work hours be like? Unlike the U.S. (where I am from) the typical work day in India can start anywhere from 9am – 11am and end anywhere from 6pm – 11pm. Make sure you are clear on what hours you will be expected to work and you are comfortable with the answer.
Will you be required to work 6-days a week? Just something you should ask since many offices are also open on Saturday’s.
What is your job description? This is important. The work environment is very chaotic in India and if you are a competent worker, you will be asked to help out with just about everything in the office. You should make sure that you understand what exactly you will be responsible for and how your success will be measured prior to signing any dotted lines.
Are you comfortable with your Contract/Employment Agreement? Important Advice: If you want it, get it in writing. If you don’t get it in writing you will have a brief moment when you remember reading this blog and say, “oh crap, I should’ve listened to that girl.” Understandably, you are going to be very excited about your new pending adventure and you might be ready to sign on the dotted line and get on the plane as soon as possible. Take a deep breathe and remember, this is your life and you are moving to another country for the benefit of your company. You must make sure you are taken care of and truly understand what you are signing up for. The move itself and new life is going to bring with it many discomforts, you need to make sure you are comfortable with what you’re signing. In my case, my contract was 16 pages long and let’s be honest, I did not understand everything that was in the contract. I would suggest having a lawyer review it, just for peace of mind. Do not be afraid to ask for revisions or things that you want. This is the time to ask, once you sign the document, the “agreement” is done. You are moving to a new country you will be taking care of yourself, start doing this even before you leave by getting what you want and deserve via your contract! By the way, you better sharpen your negotiation skills now, because people in India are masters of this art form. What better time to start then with your own contract.
On a personal level, you should ask yourself the following:
Are you o.k. hanging out by yourself? Lol. But seriously, when you first get here, if you moved here by yourself like me, you will spend a lot of alone time, so it’s good if you like your own company. On a positive note, there are great expat groups to join in many cities and will provide you with an opportunity to hang out with people that have the same experiences and frustrations as you (frustrations that you will actually come to know and love) and the same appreciation of India. Together you will be able to discuss the overwhelmingly popular love/hate relationship you each have with India.
Are you adaptable and able to deal with a lot of frustrations and inefficiencies? Be prepared that many things will go drastically wrong and there is nothing you can do about it. All you can do is stay positive, make the best of the situations that are presented to you and know it is just making you stronger as a person. If you are not able to deal with chaos and at least 10 major things going wrong throughout the day, then India may not be the place for you. However, if you are looking to cultivate your creative side, learn to live in chaos and become a more patient person (because there is no other choice) … then India’s the place to be… and on your particularly frustrating days you can read How to Get uninvited to your Own Pity Party.
Will you be able to do some of things you love in your off time? Trust me on this one, make sure to do some research before you come to set-up some recreational activities for yourself. This task will be just as important as anything else you do to prepare for your move. You will need an outlet and something to ground you when you get here. Here are some resources to help you:
One of my friend’s recently told me, the adventure is not when you set out, it’s when everything goes wrong. How very true this is. So my advice, if in your heart you are up for it (don’t worry, your head will eventually follow), get on the plane and let the adventure begin! …and if you like to write, start a blog… sharing your experiences with friends and family is very therapeutic and helps you feel closer to home on the days you need it! (there will be a few of those days for sure!)