6. Cross-cultural training. Confirm whether you will have the opportunity to undergo cross-cultural training before your departure. Although some companies have a solid indoctrination program as part of the expat package, many don’t. If yours doesn’t, consider requesting it as part of your package, as studies show that employees who receive solid cross-cultural training tend to transition much better both into a new market and back to the old. There are companies that specialize in cross-cultural training.
I was sent to Beijing to open Amoco’s first representative office. As such, the company provided some great expatriate induction programs that covered logistics and moving, which were critical to my eventual success. Yet, when I was transferred to London years later, my indoctrination paled in comparison. I guess people didn’t think the British culture needed much explaining and probably didn’t think much of it, as it was the HQ. But I would caution anyone considering a move to London to seek out people who have lived there before, and do not assume the culture and language are the same as they are in America—they aren’t. —Anna, former BP executive
7. Site visit. Determine whether you will be allowed at least one company-sponsored site visit before you accept the offer—preferably with your spouse or significant other if you have one—to explore your potential new home. You’ll need to spend at least three days, although a full week is even better. If the company doesn’t allow such a visit, you should request the opportunity to talk to a few people who’ve lived there, preferably on assignment with the company, so you can gather valuable information from them. Or consider financing your own visit if you can afford it. In addition, search Web sites, rent tapes, and read guidebooks both before and after your site visit (or in place of it, if necessary).