In the past blogs you could read on how to find an internship abroad and how to find a flight. This time the blog will not include an enumeration of tips and tricks, but it will include my personal experience and tips/recommendations for interning abroad.
When I wanted to go abroad for my internship I did not really know anyone with previous experiences of going abroad for an internship. I personally did have experience with going abroad for a year, but that was for study. Working abroad is totally different and definitely when it is a non-western culture.
What I would recommend to everybody is to not set expectations unrealistically high when going abroad for your internship. Some people have the time of their life, but some people are counting down the days for the internship to be over. The reason that determines the experience differs; good contact with colleagues, friends outside of the company etc.
After office hours it is the time to explore the country and make friends. I was lucky to live in a house with Dutch interns and all the Dutch and Belgian interns formed a group, so we hung out as soon as we could. Every weekend we went on trips; to the beach, to islands around Bali or up to the north of the Bali. There was never a dull moment, it always felt so good to share experiences with each other and when needed, we were there for each other and we could help each other out.
That is also why I would personally really recommend to look for a Facebook page or other kinds of online communities for foreign interns, young professionals, expats etc. living in the country of choice. In these communities you will always find people in the same position as you and you can meet those people more easily. You are all in the same boat 🙂
Do not be afraid to open yourself up. It is fine if you take a little longer to feel comfortable. You have to get used to the culture, colleagues and work atmosphere, but do not forget that your colleagues will also have to get used to you too. They might be shy in the beginning as well, but that does not mean that they dislike you.
If they ask you to go with them to the bar or somewhere else, go with them, this it the ultimate chance to get to know your colleagues and the colleagues can get to know you. Besides that, it is also the perfect opportunity to get to know the culture.
In some cultures, like the Asian culture, employees find it hard to give an intern (especially a foreign intern) tasks. They find it hard to ask for help, so you need to ask for tasks yourself. Do not underestimate your knowledge obtained during your studies, you know more than you think and your company will most likely appreciate all of your input.
Explore what there is to explore near you and go there during the weekends of after office hours. You want to go back home after a couple of months fully knowing the country and the culture, you do not want to live in a cocoon and never get out of your house after office hours. Plan fun activities, if your internship is awful you can look forward to the fun activities you are planning.
It is fully in your own hands whether to make it the most unforgettable experience in a positive way or in a negative way. If there is one thing that you really dislike, make sure you make another thing extra fun.
Last tips: This might sound cliché, but push yourself to the limits, get out of your comfort zone and make it an experience to never forget!
If you have any comments and/or questions, do not bother to send an email or ask the question in the comment section below!
Do you know someone that is going abroad any time soon? Share this blog with him/her!