Study Up On Your New Country
You landed your new job, flew over to Europe, and are about to start working. Now, is it appropriate to go out drinking with your new workmates after the first day? How about inviting the boss? Should you use first or last names at work? How should you behave in a meeting? Can you just voice your opinion whenever you want? These are the kinds of questions that you should be thinking about as you try to deal with a completely new culture. It is the little things like this that will affect how your new colleagues will treat you.
Before you leave for your new job, a little research will go a long way to helping you avoid embarrassing mistakes in how you interact with people in Europe.
Of course, it is not just social faux pas that you are trying to avoid. It also makes a lot of sense to know the labor laws of the country you will be working in, as well as your company’s holiday and overtime policies.
You are also simply going to want to get a sense of the country itself; its geography, cities, population, and pastimes. A great place to start is a travel guide for the country. For many countries you will also be able to find books specifically about moving and building a new life in that country rather than just traveling to it. These kinds of books are indispensable for a first look at the differences you can expect in lifestyles and work environments.
A month before your new job starts, start watching Internet sites that provide current local events and news for Europe in general and the country you are moving to in particular. Get a feel for the politics and the celebrities of the country; if nothing else, you can use these topics as conversational ice breakers in the first few weeks in the country as you are finding your social footing. Another excellent topic to get a handle on is how the country in general sees itself in relation to the rest of Europe.
There are so many little things in our daily lives that we take for granted here that will be very different in Europe. Current fashions, current slang, even the way people greet each other are things that you will have to learn anew. While being a foreigner will give you some leeway in many instances, knowing beforehand how to dress, act, and interact will definitely impress those around you. Behaving appropriately right from the start in the workplace will definitely help your situation.
For the record, in Germany, work and private life are kept very separate and it is much less common to go out drinking with colleagues as a way to get to know one another at the start of a new job.In France, use formal surnames until invited to use the more personal first name. First names are generally only used between close friends and family members. Of course, so many of these suggestions are dependent on the individuals; but you generally will always be able to err on the side of caution and act in a way that is generally favorable to the common culture of your new European home. Now go find out what that common culture is.