At home and at work: How to avoid the pitfalls of a first overseas posting

By Daphne Davies 15 December 2015

A busy street market in Lilongwe, Malawi. Two London aid workers share their insights on how to adapt to living and working in a different country for the first time. Photo by: neiljs / CC BY

If you’ve just accepted a position for an international development organization in a country new to you, you’re most likely wondering about the cultural adjustments you’ll have to make ahead of and during your time abroad.

How do you decide where to live and shop? How do you adapt to or challenge local customs in and out of the workplace that might clash with your own values? While your employer will hopefully help you address some of these questions before you head out, more will likely crop up as you adapt to living and working in a different country for the first time.

Devex asked two aid workers hailing from London: Maxi, a gender specialist, and Adam, a manager in a local nonprofit, for their own experience in adapting to work in Malawi.

At home

Unless provided a set living arrangement, a priority for aid workers moving to a new post can be deciding where to live.

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About the author

Daphne davies profile
Daphne Davies

Daphne Davies is a London-based freelance journalist and consultant with more than 30 years' experience in international development. She has worked with the U.N., the European Union, national governments and global civil society organizations, including Amnesty, WWF and LDC Watch. Her expertise is in monitoring government policies in relation to international cooperation. Her interests are in sustainability, social and economic matters, women and least developed countries.


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