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Survival Kit for Overseas Living

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Survival Kit for Overseas Living

For Americans Planning to Live and Work Abroad

Intercultural Press,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Working abroad will give you the cultural shock of your life. Here's how to insulate yourself.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


This book, first published in 1979, is still timely and useful, though it shows a few signs of age. It’s hard to believe that any Americans in the CNN age are quite as ignorant of the world abroad as they were in the 1970s. However, diversity training and exposure to Thai and Mexican cuisine only goes so far to inoculate Americans against their own inherent cultural assumptions. Yes, this is written for people from the United States and addressed to them directly, but it would be useful to any sojourner trying to shake off hometown assumptions and adapt to life abroad. This volume treats every reader as a neophyte, a Dorothy in the Land of Oz. Author L. Robert Kohls offers a useful series of self-tests and questionnaires, psychological and anthropological frameworks, and practical guidance on routine matters. The book, which is engagingly written, with a wry and sometimes ironic touch, also contains useful appendices. believes that it merits a place in the library of anyone, particularly any American, who is taking an overseas assignment, however brief.


Shipping Out, Are You?So you’re going to accept the chance to go abroad to live and work. Life won’t be quite what you’re used to experiencing. Other countries are different in big and small ways. To be effective in a new environment, prepare. It’s not so much that you need to understand the other country better. That won’t be hard. The difficult part will be understanding yourself, particularly if you are an American who has to function in an un-American environment — an environment, in fact, where being un-American isn’t even vaguely suspicious.Rest assured, you are not entering virgin territory. You may not know what to expect from your new host country, but its residents know what to expect from you. They’ve seen American movies and American TV. They listen to American movies and pop music. They know just what to expect. Isn’t that comforting?In fact, your hosts have formed stereotypes and prejudices. These concepts may differ somewhat from country to country because stereotypes and prejudices take a lot of their color from the culture of the people who form them. For example, the Dutch do not think of Americans in quite the same way that the Syrians do. But it’s safe to suppose...

About the Author

L. Robert Kohls is a trainer, educator, consultant and author. He has provided cross-cultural training to more than 70 Fortune 500 companies and is Senior Associate at the San Francisco-based management-consulting firm Global Vision Group.

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