Living Abroad is the Best Preparation for Career Success

living abroad

by Victoria Lynden

This summer, Alliance Abroad will send thousands of students from the U.S. and other countries to work in Australia. And when they return, simply by virtue of having lived abroad, they’ll be more creative, more innovative, better able to devise solutions to problems than they would have been otherwise. Or, for that matter, than their fellow classmates who stayed home, according to a lot of recent academic research. With a global economy driven by innovation, they’ll be primed for career success.

living abroadProfessor Adam Galinsky and William Maddux of the Kellogg School of Management conducted creativity tests on people who had lived abroad vs. those who hadn’t. Their research, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, showed ones who lived abroad were better problem solvers and demonstrated more creative insight than the other students. The researchers theorized that’s partly because they had to adapt to a different culture. In fact, when asked to share stories of their time abroad, at the same time students who hadn’t traveled recounted stories of some other learning experience in a new place, the travelers were far more creative after the exercise…as evidenced, apparently, by their ability to draw cooler space aliens. But that’s not the point. The point might be that when students were asked to negotiate a solution between a buyer and seller with incompatible price points, the ones who had lived abroad were better able to negotiate a solution that worked. And if there’s anything that helps with career success, it’s being able to negotiate.

Students who have lived abroad are far better prepared for a global, multi-cultural business world. I’ll grant you that Australians speak English, which makes the transition easier for native English speakers. But their culture and way of communicating is different. For example, Americans tend to share how hard they worked to get something done in order to gain appreciation. Australians are more likely to de-emphasize the work they did, to gain appreciation by showing how easy it was for them to accomplish it. These and other differences force students to stop and think consciously about the way they operate with people of other cultures, rather than just accepting that the American way is the “right” way.

Living abroad fosters a sense of independence and adaptability, and prepares students to take on challenges they might not otherwise have approached. According to the Graduate Management Admission Test site, employers look for candidates with international experience for that very reason.

Finally, I’ve talked to hundreds of these students when they’ve returned from a summer in Australia. Their lives were transformed. They had made new friends and discovered things about themselves and their capabilities and passions they might never have discovered in the comfort of their own culture and geography.

I can’t wait to hear the stories from this summer of living abroad.

living abroad

What to Pack in Your Suitcase for Australia

So, you’ve landed a working holiday in Australia… how awesome! During your time abroad, you’re sure to meet a lot of really cool people, see some amazing landscapes, and experience what a “no worries” lifestyle really means. But, first things first, what should you pack for an extended stay abroad and your travels in Australia? Here are some tips.

Planning What to Pack:

  • Be sure to check the weather conditions of your working holiday destination before you depart. This will help you determine how to pack. You may also want to investigate what the weather trends were like during the past year.
  • Don’t plan on taking anything that you would be upset about if lost.
  • Think about what mementos you could bring along from home, for example, photos of family and friends. Having these types of items will be comforting in case of homesickness.
  • Australia has many similar items you can buy when you arrive, so unless you have to use a special type of shampoo or toothpaste, you can buy these items when you get there. Plan to take enough toiletries for the first week or so while you get settled; then go to the shops to purchase a longer supply.

Packing List, The Essentials:What to Pack in Your Suitcase for Australia

  • Casual shoes
  • Sandals/flip flops
  • Dress shoes
  • Running shoes
  • Jeans/pants/shorts
  • Sweaters/sweatshirts
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Short sleeve shirts
  • Sleep wear
  • Socks
  • Under garments
  • Jacket
  • Swimming suits
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen*
  • Rain jacket/umbrella
  • Camera
  • Alarm clock
  • Comb/hairbrush
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Travel-sized toiletries
  • Pictures of your family and friends
  • Cash ($400 – $500 in case of emergency)
  • Medication (If you are taking a prescription medication, you will need to bring a doctor’s note or copy of your prescription)
  • Electrical converter/universal plug**

*The Australian sun is much hotter than in other places of the world, so please make sure you bring a high SPF sunscreen and apply it regularly.

** The electrical current in Australia is 240/250 volts, AC 50Hz. The Australian three pin power outlet is different from that in North America so you will need an adapter socket. If your appliances are not 240/250 volts you will need a voltage converter. Universal outlets for 240V or 11 OV appliances are usually found in leading hotels. 

Packing List, Optional Items (you can buy these when you get there):

  • Hair dryer/hair products
  • Full-sized toiletries
  • Make up (for the ladies)
  • Razors
  • Supply of favorite lotions and shampoos

Document Checklist

  • Passport and any visa paperwork
  • Airline tickets / itinerary
  • Photo ID
  • Copies of itinerary, ID, and passport
  • Host company job offer & program information

It’s suggested that you make two copies of all documents; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member and place one in your luggage. You may also want to carry a copy of your passport with you at all times rather than your physical passport, except for during international travel.

You may also want to check out this article, “Things to do Before Leaving for Your Internship Abroad

I hope this information helps. Have fun and good luck!

australia facebook

facebook twitter pinterest instagram UNITEDyoutube linkedin blog

Skip to toolbar