International Internships: 5 Important Things You Need to Know Before You Intern Abroad

Adelante Abroad
5 students standing in front of a canyon during some Mexico international internships

Interning abroad is a way for graduates or gap year students to gain work experience all while discovering a new country. However, before taking off to your dream destination, there are a few factors that you will want to keep in mind. In this blog, we will explain five things you must know before exploring new cities and expanding your work experience. These tips will help for a smooth transition abroad so you can get the most out of your internship adventure.

1. Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity

-Research Local Culture: Each destination abroad has a different culture from one another. For example, how you greet your colleagues or if tipping on your food bill is necessary. Knowing these beforehand will help you get the best experience possible.

-Learn Basic Phrases: English is a universal language but take some time to learn phrases in the place you are traveling to. This will make the transition to the new country easier and enhance your experience abroad.

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2. Do the Paperwork

-Visa Research: If you are traveling and you know the country you are coming from requires a visa, research the Visa requirements so you are prepared to get the documents needed for your visa appointment. From many countries you will need some type of Visa if you are staying for more than 90 days.

-Insurances in Another Country: Health and Liability Insurance is almost always needed by employers in other countries. There are different ways you can get these insurances but do not get them until you know exactly where you are traveling to.

3. Money Talk

-Budgeting: Interning in another country when you are not getting paid requires you to take proactive steps in budgeting and saving for your trip. Research ways that you can put money aside for when you decide to go abroad.

-Currency and Banking: The exchange rate is always changing and banks usually have the best exchange rates. When using an ATM abroad, you may be charged with fees but this is better than losing money going places that will give you a worse exchange rate.

Non profit intern in mexico

4. Culture Shock

Phases of Culture Shock

  • Honeymoon Phase: The initial excitement to be in a new country.
  • Culture Shock: Frustration and realization of cultural differences.
  • Adjustment Phase: Adaptation to the new culture and adjustments in problem-solving
  • Mastery Phase: Full acceptance of the new culture and the feeling of being at home.

Common Symptoms: There are Emotional, Physical, and Social symptoms that may come up when in a new country. If you are feeling homesick, irritable, lonely, or can’t get sleep, just know that these feelings will pass and you will get through it!

5. Professional Expectations and Networking

-Understand Work Culture: Work culture is different in each country. While some countries have a fast-paced work environment, others may have the opposite. Get familiar with how colleagues communicate, the work hours, and anything culture-wise that may influence how work is conducted in this new country.

-Build your Professional Network: Start building your professional network before you go abroad. Likewise, see if you can attend social gatherings with some of your new colleagues.

Rooftop view of Santo Domingo Church

Preparing before you go abroad and adapting while in the new country are important for a transformative experience. Being proactive when it comes to the above topics is a great way for you to maximize the benefits of living in another country and interning with a new company. Embrace the challenges that come towards you, be willing to learn, and get ready to evolve personally so you leave your international internship feeling enriched. Ready to start your journey? Adelante Abroad is ready to help!

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