Why Young Americans Should Work Overseas

Why Young Americans Should Work Overseas

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I should start off by saying the reasons laid out in this article on why young Americans should work overseas are practical and not ideological. This is not a liberal argument or a conservative argument;
it’s a life argument. For two centuries, if you were young, ambitious, and college-educated, North America offered you the best opportunities. But the tides are changing and that’s no longer the case.

The odd thing is that no one in the United States seems to realize this yet. People haven’t caught on. And what does that mean? Opportunity. Tons of it.

One of my best friends recently told me that the prestigious multinational corporation he worked for was itching to permanently send him to India. They wanted him to manage their expansion into that market. And, obviously, India is a huge emerging market. They gave him the Godfather offer to go — enough money to live in a mansion, with personal chefs, private drivers, everything. The irony, of course, was that my friend is a first generation Indian-American. His parents gave up everything decades ago and fought their way to the US to give their kids opportunities they would never have had back in India. They succeeded. What they didn’t expect was that that opportunity for their son they gave up everything for? It was back in India.

And such is the irony for this generation of Americans. Our grandparents immigrated to the US for opportunity. And now, in many cases, with our US education, the greater opportunity is elsewhere.

If you are college educated and under 30, there’s a significant chance that you would be better off working in a country outside of the United States and I will explain why.

Reason #1 – Your market value is higher elsewhere

So the primary argument of this whole piece boils down to this: We’ve all heard the horror stories about how college grads can’t find work or are stuck working a job they’re insanely over-qualified for. In the US, there are simply no longer enough quality jobs for everyone with a university education. We have an education surplus. It’s reached the point where many are openly questioning whether going to university is even worth it, while others call it an outright scam.

Meanwhile, you have massive emerging economies in Asia and South America that are desperate for college grads and especially for western-educated college grads.

It’s simple supply and demand. There aren’t enough jobs in the US and Europe anymore for young people. There aren’t enough highly educated people in emerging countries. Put two and two together, and your market value is much higher elsewhere.

In fact, western-educated employees are valued so highly in many parts of the world, that companies will deck you out, covering everything from your expenses, housing, transportation, as well as benefits, just to get you to come over.

Reason #2 – The quality-of-life/cost-of-living ratio is now much higher elsewhere

A friend of mine recently told me that he spoke to a luxury hotel owner in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The hotel owner was desperate to hire managers with western education. He claimed that Malaysia’s education system, while good, taught obedience and that Malays did not problem solve or think for themselves. Therefore they made poor managers. He was willing to hire anyone — yes, anyone — with a western university degree and immediately put them in a management position, a position that would take at least five to 10 years in the industry to reach back in the US. Perks included paid housing (penthouse suite within the hotel in downtown KL), paid transportation, and all the benefits.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Hah, yeah, but who would want to live in a shithole like Koala Oompa Loompa?” I know. I thought the same thing… until I went there. I expected dusty markets with loud motorbikes, no electricity and spiders the size of my face.

But, as with most Asian cities, I got something totally unexpected: Kuala Lumpur is amazing. In fact, it’s probably a nicer city than the one you live in right now. Don’t believe me? Let’s just put it this way. I went to a mall in Kuala Lumpur and there was a ferris wheel and a roller coaster inside the mall. Yeah…

Kuala Lumpur's indoor roller coaster is better than you.

Kuala Lumpur’s indoor roller coaster is better than you.

The fact of the matter is that the developing world (minus much of Africa) has in many ways caught up to the developed world and caught up fast. It’s happened under our noses and we haven’t even realized it. When I started traveling the world in 2009, almost every place I went to blew my expectations away. I expected to show up to a dirt heap and get my kidneys carved out, and what I got was an amazing quality of life for my money.

Similarly, when my girlfriend, who is Brazilian, began traveling around the world a few years ago, she had the exact opposite reaction: every place she went was not nearly as nice as she expected. Why? She grew up in Brazil and assumed that the US and Europe were technological and social paradises, light years ahead of her native country. She was wrong. Over and over again, wrong, wrong, wrong.

Economists measure quality of life with different metrics. They also measure cost of living. By these metrics, usually the same countries come out on top. What nobody has measured (to my knowledge) is a quality of life PER cost of living metric. Why nobody asked me about this, I have no idea.

But it’s an easy concept to grasp. Here’s an example: $3000 per month in New York City gets you a shitty roach-infested studio apartment in a bad part of Brooklyn or Queens and a lot of fatty take-out meals. Chances are you are working 50- or 60-hour weeks and the weather sucks six months out of the year. In Bangkok, $3000 per month gets you the nicest penthouse apartment in the city, your own driver, access to some of the best restaurants and nightlife in Asia, and you’re probably working 30- or 35-hour weeks. The high-life there is probably 90% of the high-life in NYC, but you’re now living it on the same income that got you a shitty studio apartment back in Queens.

Reason #3 – The Jobs Aren’t Coming Back

I hate to be the one that breaks this to you, but the jobs aren’t coming back. Sure, unemployment rates have dropped to below 8%, but as Republicans correctly point out, this is because people are giving up on working altogether and the real number of jobs is falling. The US government keeps reporting job growth every month, but what they fail to mention is that the job growth is slower than the overall population growth.

There is a structural change in the economy. Technological improvements mean our economy can produce more value while employing fewer workers. Economists refer to this as the de-coupling of labor and growth. Technological automation and globalization has created an economy that can grow while employing fewer people. This technology and outsourcing has also developed an economy that disproportionally rewards entrepreneurs, investors and corporations. Hence the whole “We are the 99%” hubbub a year or two ago.

And with the accelerating rate of technological advancement, the problem is only going to get worse, not better. Democrats and Republicans will continue to blame the sluggish economy and shitty job numbers on each other. But know this: that if it’s anybody’s fault, it’s Silicon Valley’s. And the same technology that has enriched our lives and allows me to write this and you to read it, is ultimately the culprit.

Shit’s changing, folks. And it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. We’re seeing a perfect storm of sorts: the decoupling of economic growth to household income and labor productivity with a simultaneous aging population. I don’t care who is president; things are going to be a mess for a while to come.

(If you’d like to learn more about this, I highly recommend reading this book: Race Against the Machine by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee)

Reason #4 – It’s time for everyone to grow up and become global citizens

Christopher Hitchens, about traveling the world, once wrote:

What I have discovered is something very ordinary and unexciting, which is that humans are the same everywhere and that the degree of variation between members of our species is very slight.
 

This is of course an encouraging finding; it helps arm you against news programs back home that show seething or abject masses of either fanatical or torpid people.
 

In another way it is a depressing finding; the sorts of things that make people quarrel and make them stupid are the same everywhere.

There’s a lot of alarmism in the media these days. Iran is going to start World War III. War between China and the US is inevitable. A bunch of rag-tag tribesmen in Pakistan are going to wrought nuclear annihilation on all of us. Drug runners in Mexico are going to chop your limbs off. Bizarrely named African rebels are going to drink your blood.

It’s time to get over the hype, move beyond the overblown cultural differences within the human species, and to get over, as Hitchens quotes Freud as saying, “the narcissism of the small difference.”

Living abroad has been one of the biggest personal growth experiences of my life. It’s given me the most unique and memorable experiences of my life. It’s made me smarter, wiser, more tolerant, and more empathetic. And I’m by no means unique in this regard. Just about any world traveler will tell you the same thing.

But the biggest asset has been eliminating my narcissism of that small difference. A lot of people throw around the cliché “broadening your horizons.” But I see it simply as engaging humanity. Recognizing that our perceptions of the dreaded “other” are dominated by the extremes. And that despite cultural differences, people are all trying to get the same needs met.

As a young adult, your biggest assets are time and ambition. If you fail today, you have the advantage of being able to start fresh tomorrow. The difference between a broke, jobless 22-year-old and a broke, jobless, 26-year-old is basically nothing. So use those four years to do something crazy, to shoot for the moon.

Leverage these years. Because one day you won’t be able to. The world is changing in ways people haven’t caught on to yet. And you can position yourself to be there to capitalize on this new borderless, instant-information economy.

Or you can position yourself as part of a by-gone era, serving up lattes at Starbucks, paying off that English Lit degree you never used, wondering where you went wrong, and why Obama (or whoever is in the White House) hasn’t fixed everything yet.

It’s your job to fix your life. So get moving.

Resources to help you work overseas:

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293 Comments

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  • Reply

    tk yilma

    2 months ago

    Hey there!

    Loved your article! I just came back from a 6 months study abroad program in Northern France and I am more committed to graduating ASAP and getting a job abroad. However, as an Ethiopian, I wanted to disagree with how Africa is not at that “magical” status South AMerican and Asia are at too cause I have many cousins that are American born that move to Ethiopia and other African nations and basically live like Kings with all the chiefs and drivers and etc… So yes, Africa may not be as stable as SOuth America or Asia, but that value for western educated employees is equally existing there.

  • Reply

    John Clarkson

    2 months ago

    Yup, you nailed it. I’m an American, and I’ve been living in Koala Oompa Loompa for over three years now and am still digging it. I’ve been treated like royalty, and the pay has been higher than what I could make at home. The only downside is that its darn near impossible to find a good pizza over here.

    This trip (a thousand day trip?) was my first outside of the US. The last week before I came over, I was scared witless. What am I doing, I’ve gone insane. But once you get settled in your new place, you quickly realize, as the author pointed out, that people are basically the same where ever you go. The food might smell different, the skin might be a different color, but we are all human, and share the same hopes and fears.

    Here’s hoping more Americans start travel abroad. It has done me a world (pun reluctantly intended) of good.

    • Reply

      Rinu

      2 months ago

      How did you find an opportunity to work abraod?

      • Reply

        Janey

        2 months ago

        Here’s an opportunity for you: open up a pizza shop in John’s neighborhood.

        • Reply

          Anotherone

          1 month ago

          +1

          • Rebecca

            16 weeks ago

            I agree wholeheartedly with your message HOWEVER I need you to go back and do some research on emerging African economies. Africa is by no way light years behind Southeast Asia and South America. Regardless of what the media chooses to portray, Africa, especially the East African region is growing faster then ever. As a 22 year old American living and working in Nairobi,,, (which is in Kenya, in case your lack of research had you believe Africa was a county), I have met countless Western expats whos standard of living is far beyond what they could ever imagine obtaining in the States.

            If you want to encourage Americans to become “global citizens” I suggest you educate yourself on possibilities in emerging marketing across the ENTIRE world!! Do better.

    • Reply

      Victor

      2 months ago

      John, I’n an eurpean living in Southamerica. You are right in everithing you say. Just learn to cook pizza, it’s quite easy :-)

      • Reply

        Katie

        1 month ago

        Hi Victor. What country are you working in? What is your job? I am looking to work in South America, but I have a pretty narrow degree (Education). I really enjoy education but am open into getting into new fields too. :-) I just fell in love with South American during a study abroad trip and I can’t wait to go back!

        • Reply

          Mali

          18 weeks ago

          Hi Katie, there are so many teaching abroad opportunities. Especially in Asia, in countries such as Thailand and South Korea, you could be sitting pretty teaching English.

        • Reply

          Joy

          1 day ago

          Hey Katie: I just wanted to comment and say that you having a degree in Education, is probably the best kind of degree to have to travel! People all over the world want to learn english, and no matter where you go, or who you end up working with, what community you end up living in, people need to be taught – whether it’s kids, or teens, or adults. I’m from Thailand, and the need for Western English teachers is so huge, that large local schools will offer full time (or part time – basically any position) jobs, even to people who don’t have degrees! I don’t know much about South American, but come to Asia, there’s tons of opportunities here =)

    • Reply

      Helen

      1 month ago

      Well, my cousin who’s 22 years old started a pizza place in KL and it totally rocks! She has become very wealthy from the business in just 2 years, she now has several cars, her own luxury appartment, and several people working for her. If you have a sense of business in Malaysia you can start with virtually no starting capital.

  • Reply

    Eternal Traveler

    2 months ago

    Great article – a couple of points to add:

    1) The foreign opportunities eventually run out for expats, so Americans, don’t hesitate, take advantage of them now! I know a few Americans who came to East Europe in the 90ies and it was amazing, just exactly how you describe, anyone with a western college degree got amazing job running a local branch of a multinational, investment fund etc. The expats would get crazy pay packages just to entice them to come (again, similar to what you now say about Malaysia). Fast forward a few years and locals have caught up, college kids would go and study abroad, do internships in western companies, learn English etc and now local talent is available so there’s little need to pay anyone crazy money. Same for other “boom” countries I’ve seen – talked to an American who went to work in Afghanistan right after the invasion for a lucrative private-sector job and fast forward few years later, locals and returning emigres also caught up and there’s enough local talent and no need to get people from overseas. So unless you’re going for one of the booming international hubs (e.g. Dubai, Singapore..), the window of opportunity will eventually close.

    2) As you say, America is still the land of opportunity for many, but boy – how has it changed over the years. I graduated from one of the Ivies around 10 years ago and it was a common understanding among us international students that everyone will try to stay in the US. Fast forward few years and I graduated from one of the top MBA programs and now it was almost a common understanding among internationals that everyone will try to leave. Sure, some stayed, but vast majority of international students either went back to their countries or to other emerging markets. I think around 95% of Indians and 99% of Chinese went home – so go figure where the opportunities are.

    3) People need to understand that working in a stagnating market makes no sense – you’re competing against fellow college graduates for jobs that don’t pay, have little opportunities for growth, won’t help you in any way professionally because even if you do well, there will be other 1000s of people who do well with no place to move up to – why promote new guys when nobody is leaving!? So in the end you’ll end up working like a dog, competing against fellow rats with no payoff in the end. Sure, you might strike gold and get a job in some startup that is either well funded or makes it big, but the innovation economy is tiny compared to the number of graduates in the market.

    So it’s really a no-brainer to go work abroad for a while.

  • Reply

    Audra Richards

    2 months ago

    This has really made me want to work outside of the US and to have many new experiences that I can not experience in the US! I have already wanted to visit different countries since I have been stuck in one state my whole life! But now I want to fully experience different countries through living there for long periods of time. Thank you for the links as well so I can easily research how to work abroad!

  • Reply

    Nicia

    2 months ago

    I love your article about Americans (U.S. Citizens) and it’s sequel. I actually like to talk about things related to culture with “American” expats around the world. I’m sure they’ll be glad to read your article.

  • Reply

    Dana

    2 months ago

    Hello,

    I have been absolutely loving your pieces. They are informative, witty and even better, frank. I have been scouring the web over the past few months looking for a suitable work abroad situation and have yet to find one. I am a 22 year old with a surprisingly cozy job in the corporate insurance world. Yikes. The problem is this: I am not college educated…and I don’t really plan on becoming so. I make more than most of my educated counterparts 5-10 years out whether that be by luck or drive and I don’t really want to rack up debt when I don’t have to. Now, I do see where that is becoming a problem for opportunities in work abroad. Most of them only want students or grads. Are there any ways around this? I’d really like your input. Thanks.

  • Reply

    Andrew

    2 months ago

    I’m half American and half Scottish, and I was born an expat as my father worked all over the world in oil & gas, which is how he met my mother. Just shy of 32, I’ve spent 16 years living in the Middle East, 2 years in South East Asia, and 3 months in Norway. Included within that time spent abroad has been my entire career. Global citizen? Quite possibly.

    The opportunities are in the developing world, and as you said inferred yourself, developing doesn’t mean undeveloped – it just means the pace of development is till incredible. The friendships I’ve made have been incredible, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

  • Reply

    Lisa

    2 months ago

    Any advice for lawyers with no experience who knows nothing of/has no aptitude for corporate or transactional work (much less a desire to do it)? My boyfriend has traveled a ton (I haven’t at all) and he wants to get back at it, but we’re staring down the barrel of a quarter million dollars of student loan debt so there has to be a real plan involved. Speak some Spanish (not fluent) and prefer not to do anything that would be seen as making trouble for the local government. Seriously any advice you might have would be greatly appreciated. I’ve enjoyed your articles so far. Thanks.

  • Reply

    Josh

    2 months ago

    I am happy to have a job and live in a country where there will probably still be work for me for some time. Although I probably agree with most points you make, the point that I wouldn’t want to live too far away from my family, friends and relatives.

  • Reply

    Zoltan

    2 months ago

    I taught in Asia and Europe for several years. I got nervous about living out of a suitcase, went back to school and got my Masters. I’m working on Ph.D. now. My goal is to do research in a developing country.

    I included my LinkedIn profile here: If you’d like to reach me, its http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=13137069

    Opportunities are always considered. I have dual US EU citizenship.

  • Reply

    Samir

    2 months ago

    Nice article and I agree with everything you said. Can you talk about some of the ways one can get a job abroad? I work for a company that doesn’t have an international presence and am curious

    • Reply

      Mark

      2 months ago

      Check the links at the bottom of the article.

  • Reply

    kb

    2 months ago

    Cute article. Hate to sound old, but with 25 years traveling and 10 working overseas (yes, including the part of Africa not mentioned here) I encourage and caution younger readers to consider what it means to leave home, family and friends year after year… The ferris wheel in the mall is less interesting when your parents are sick or your friends get married and have kids and all you can is read about on e interwebs.

    Not trying to be a party pooper, just realistic. Do you. Peace.

    • Reply

      maxican

      1 month ago

      good point

  • Reply

    Strange Whispers

    1 month ago

    What about older people, would you recommend travel, live and work in foreign countries for people in their 40s? It took me and my wife a lot longer to graduate college and get some experience due to the unfortunate US class system.

    We have talked about it, but wasn’t sure if we were too old (no kids and not a lot of commitments here in the states).

    • Reply

      Kyllaen

      21 weeks ago

      Hi Strange Whispers. My partner and I are now 40 and just returned from 10 years living in Taiwan. There are many countries looking for ESL teachers and only require a Bachelor’s Degree. The cost of living there is very low (except in the 3 largest cities Kaohsiung, Taipei and Taichung), almost free medical and dental (I think we paid about $10 a month and then $3 each visit), taxes are low and you are able to pick up extra work on the side. We would still be there, except our parents are getting into their 70′s and we decided that we may as well move home, as we paid off our house (in 6 years!) and would have a reasonable cost of living with not having to pay rent. Taiwan is a beautiful country and the people are mostly very friendly. I would recommend checking out jobs there. Even if you just go for a year, it’s a paid vacation with enough earnings to have a good chunk of savings when you leave.

  • Reply

    Jono Blackmore

    1 month ago

    Mark,

    I absolutely loved the article. I am a recent college graduate and like most kids my age I was constantly wondering what I would be doing with my life after graduation. Throughout college, I was always extremely fascinated with China. I studied everything that I possibly could about the country, mostly contemporary Chinese history. I absolutely loved it and finally decided that I should go to China to start a new chapter of my life. My history professor had a great friend that was the director of the Colorado China Council. Within two weeks of applying to the program, I had a job. It was probably the most exciting moment of my life. I would be an English teacher at a University in Pengshan, which is about an hour south of the Chengdu. I couldn’t be any more happy to be in China. I have been learning the language now for about two months and it is the most challenging thing that I have ever done; however, I am determined. I would love to one day be able to fully express my thoughts and feelings in Chinese. I will be teaching at this University for one year and after I plan to find another job in China. I’m not sure what exactly I will do, but I am certain that I want to stay. I love the culture, I love the people, and can’t imagine living anywhere else. This article has helped me to realize that I really do want to stay in China. There is no rush for me to go back to America. At times, I definitely miss my family, friends, and the food; however, the experiences that I have had thus far have outweighed the negatives. As I said earlier, I loved the article and I found it extremely interesting. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    Thank You,

    Jono

  • Reply

    April Pocorus

    1 month ago

    I recently earned a TEFL certificate and am interested in teaching English abroad. What organizations can you/some of the readers suggest I go through?

  • Reply

    Kayla

    1 month ago

    While I agree with this article and the one about 10 Things America… I feel like you don’t give Americans enough credit. Most people know that Kuala Lumpur is beautiful. That Dubai is gorgeous and luxurious. That people from Latin America are warmer and more affectionate.
    “I expected to show up to a dirt heap and get my kidneys carved out, and what I got was an amazing quality of life for my money.”
    I mean I don’t know you or where you came from but I don’t know anyone who thinks of the rest of the world like that.
    I am glad that you are sharing about your enlightening experiences and maybe I’m crazy wrong about people in my country.

    • Reply

      Anonymous

      14 weeks ago

      Don’t take it too literally. The point is that we in the West so often equate the Third World with slums and violence.

  • Reply

    Erez

    1 month ago

    Well,

    I’ve read through your piece, and while I do agree with the general Idea, you make it sound like it’s something super easy.
    I’ve been living in Asia for about 4 years now (China, Taiwan and travelling to Japan and korea quite a lot) and for the better part, the foreigners that worked and lived here were of 2 kinds:
    1)English teachers
    2)could speak the local language.

    Now for Malaysia and Singapore, where almost everyone can speak good enough english, that might be good enough, but in China \ Japan \ Korea you won’t be able to find a job unless you can speak the local language or bring something REALLY different (and no, a college degree from the west isn’t really different).
    Does the promised land lay in the hands of english teaching? and what happens when you are 35? what’s your life’s prospect? teaching english? not that there is any wrong with that, but does is it suitable for everyone?
    Second is the langauge. usually, people that come to far east asia would rather enjoy the easy life and not sit on their butts after their bosses ravaged their asses at work and study the local language, especially that these languages have different “thinking” that requires a lot of attention as well as practice.
    Third, you are comparing a 3K salary in the US VS 3K in malaysia, now I can’t speak for malaysia, but in china (Shanghai) and Taiwan, nobody will pay you 3K USD a month unless you’ve got some valuable assets that the employer needs, and these places are expensive, far from the luxury life for pennies that you are trying to draw here.

    I don’t say opportunities are impossible to find, but I do think that a lot of research should put into such a big move before doing it as foreign lands might not be as easy to handle as one might originally think!

    • Reply

      Kyllaen

      21 weeks ago

      I don’t know where you were living in Taiwan Erez, but I pulled in between $2500 and $3,000 a month (Canadian dollars) and my partner about $2000. Our rent was about $530 for a two story townhouse with it’s own covered parking and roof terrace, and expenses were another $400 including groceries and gas. We were teaching English there for 10 years. There is quite a discrepancy in cost of living in the counties vs. major cities, but the wages are within about $5/hr country-wide. And yes, everyone should do extensive research before deciding to move abroad.

  • Reply

    nyc

    1 month ago

    Queens isn’t some slum. It’s the most diverse county in America. And I live in queens to avoid living near people like you who exalt Manhattan and certain “cool” outerborough neighbourhoods while looking down with disdain neighbourhoods and communities actually visited never mind being a part of. As for fatty take out? I’ll stick with the best Mexican food I’ve had in NYC (and I’ve been to Mexico so i know the real stuff), amazing fresh fish cooked Greek store, solid sushi, awesome Egyptian, fantastic dim sum etc. I suspect in a few years you’ll read your current “wisdom” and shudder at the entrenched classism. Not everyone’s goal in life is a big apartment with a driver, or “awesome” clubs. Some of us :: gasp:: even hate malls and the realization that Kuala Lumpur has a massive one means it will never be more than a stopping of point for outdoor excursions.

  • Reply

    Eva

    1 month ago

    Interesting observations, Mark, but with all due respect, please clean up your language. Unnecessary profanity on a website hoping to demonstrate professionalism
    1) is a real turnoff to many
    2) is demeaning to you
    3) is a sign of insecurity, and
    4) is a sign of a poorly educated person (i.e., someone with a lack of good command of the English language)
    5) diminishes your credibility
    Are you not aware of unoffensive adjectives you might be able to use (other than “shitty”) that can get your point across without alienating a portion of your prospective readership? It may take a few more seconds to come up with equally emphatic words, but definitely worth it if you want to increase readership and truly move ahead professionally. Your choice of course. Just think about it.

    • Reply

      Mark

      1 month ago

      Hmm… I guess I’m just a shitty writer. :\

      • Reply

        Belle

        1 month ago

        So shitty that she found your website.

      • Reply

        Jaell

        15 weeks ago

        Regarding profanity: Please reconsider without a sarcastic brush-off. My Dad served in WWII on ships, and I’m sure knew every colorful turn of phrase. but he taught me that using unnecessary profanity showed a lack of imagination and vocabulary. The comments may have been delivered bluntly rather than diplomatically, but I hope you sift through the impact of the mallet of truth. The writer’s points were, in my opinion, on target. Is there a reason you would intentionally narrow your audience? No matter how you slice this, using unnecessary profanity will do that.

        It is specifically why I hesitate to share this with professional friends and colleagues, who in turn would hesitate to share it with younger students.

        • Reply

          Al

          11 weeks ago

          “A lot of people say that it’s a lack of vocabulary that makes you swear. Rubbish. I know thousands of words but I still prefer “fuck”.” – Billy Connolly.

          Words such as “torture”, “rape”, “murder”, etc are all used in common parlance, but many deem “fuck” as unacceptable. This is rank hypocrisy, and there’s no justification for it. There is no semantic difference between “I’m extremely vexed” and “I’m fucked off”.

          • Mark

            11 weeks ago

            Amen.

  • Reply

    Alexis Victoria

    1 month ago

    Thank you for the article. I am about to embark on my own journey abroad. The article helps to reinforce my decision. I understand that your comment about 30 and under is more or less about societal norms (many of us pair off around our late 20′s and start to produce small people) and that it’s harder to move a family. It can still be done. I wish all of us the best of everything by expanding our horizons.

  • Reply

    Seth

    1 month ago

    I’m not college educated however I’m a carpenter and have a long list of skills so I know I can make a living anywhere. I’ve recently decided life in the state’s isn’t what I want it to be so I plan to liquidate all my assets and just bum around as many countries as I can until I find someplace that I feel is more suitable for me. I can’t wait to get started traveling and see what else is out there.

    • Reply

      JoJo

      28 weeks ago

      That sounds exciting! Which country do you plan to bum around first ;)

    • Reply

      Outsider

      13 weeks ago

      May be you should look at Australia (western), there is necessity for trades (professions) like your’s.

  • Reply

    Belinda

    29 weeks ago

    My son got a job in Dubai a high position and makes more money than he has his whole life,I never thought how much better living was till he paid my trip to Dubai to see him.at 50 its hard to find jobs, but I loved Dubai I am so proud of him.

  • Reply

    mps

    29 weeks ago

    well…

    as a european living for the last 6 months in shanghai, i’ve to say, its not all gold that glitters… first of all, costs are more or less the same like in europe. yes they are. china, especially shanghai, is not poor. not at all. also in the countryside (i shoot docs for tv, we come around quite a bit), many of the at first glimpse poor farmers pull an iphone 5(s) out of their pockets. here i pay MORE for my appartment that i would pay at home. working hours? we have deadlines which have to be fullfilled. by all means. this results in me sitting today, sunday, in the office. and the last sunday. and the sunday before. as a matter of fact, if i have 1 day off IN A MONTH, im happy. there have been enough months with no day off at all. so you might think at least i get paid for all this. hm. not quite. i make roughly 2k USD a month, no overtime compensation until now. this month it changed. we actually get it, it will probably double my salary. which is a good thing, because not much of the 2k remains a the end of the month. ive been able to save 3k usd in 6 months. less than i would have saved if i stayed at home.
    and then there are the cultural differences, which everyone experienced differently. not that i am not eager to learn, not willing to embrace my new home. but bottom line is, there are many things you cant get into your head. like motorbike drivers driving on the walkway, leaving no space for pedestrians and forcing them to walk on the road. people walking into a supermarket with a lit cigarette. getting the permission to shoot in a university and then bot being allowed to enter – because im white (and could be a spy who is just here to steal their super advanced techs…. no joke, that was the official reason) i could continue endlessly. but i just skip to the thing that bothers me most and will be the same all over asia. YOURE THE WHITE GUY. no matter how hard you try, how open you are to other people, you will always be the white guy. being an immigrant sucks. kudos to all those turkish/arabian/afican/asian immigrants back home who have to deal with this their whole life.

    do i regret going here? not a second. its a great experience, the “golden stamp” in my CV. but i am VERY much lookiing forward to go back home. people,go out there, experience the world. but please dont make the mistake that things turn well just because you go somewhere else. getting a decent job is worldwide a struggle. prepare to work your ass off, not like at home, i really mean work your ass off. dont expect, like written somewhere in this article, to work 30, 35 hours a week. i easily double that and then say its been a calm week. dont expect to be paid well. if it happens – good for you. just dont expect it. well, my break is over. going back to edit our movie. wonder when i go home today – will it be 9 or 10 pm? its sunday, dont forget that….

  • Reply

    Ohwell

    24 weeks ago

    You’re a sick, clueless, anti-American, globalist idiot. Hope you’ll end up rotting in some hellhole far from US, permanently. Go try to capitalize on your “privilege”–it won’t last long, hate to break this to ya.

    • Reply

      Sidra

      4 weeks ago

      Good job making your comment completely moot because of how much of an ignorant asshole you are. Love the use of “globalist idiot.”

  • Reply

    jane doe

    23 weeks ago

    Just understand that when you leave your parents that love you very much, you’re going to kill them a little more year after year. My son has been in Japan for years and it’s almost easier to erase him from my heart and mind and think of him as dead, then to face the pain of missing a loved one. It’s real and its awful to do this to your parents.

    • Reply

      Mark

      23 weeks ago

      You are a selfish mother.

  • Reply

    deodra

    21 weeks ago

    I agree with most of this– I have several friends that are American expats working overseas making loads of money. Unfortunately, I never finished college. I am in Engineering and IT. Kinda sucks that so much emphasis is placed on college degrees. Most of the time, I receive new IT guys fresh out of college and have to, then, teach them their jobs. They come out knowing next to nothing about how networks and servers, etc really work. Granted, due to their college receipts, they have more opportunity than I do, but I’m the one having to teach them their jobs. I’d love to get a job overseas, but can’t due to the degree thing. Kinda blows. I’ve been in my field for almost 15 years. Good luck to y’all! Having traveled overseas a good deal, I can say the author hit the nail on the head.

  • Reply

    Kristy Flowers

    18 weeks ago

    I loved your article! I couldn’t agree more. While Europe may have nice architecture and history, it is not the technological heaven that most people think it is. Yes, e.g. in the German countryside it is really nice, but so are other countries in Asia and other continents.

  • Reply

    Jacki

    18 weeks ago

    I’d take a job in KL in a heartbeat. I manage hotels and resorts in Colorado and the market is saturated. I chose a useless history degree then went into one of the worst paying least satisfactory jobs in the world.. hospitality. But working in ski resorts gave me the opportunity to travel the world. It gave me my heart! I’d love to work in foreign markets or help build the tourism hospitality market in a place like Colombia. Progress and growth are exciting!

  • Reply

    Frances

    17 weeks ago

    While I agree with your premise, it’s not entirely practical to tell people they can up and go. I’m an American and have been working abroad for 8 years, in 3 countries. Getting legal permissions to work in each of these countries was incredibly difficult, and the visa process usually involves your employer having to justify why they cannot hire locally (and they usually can, especially in emerging economies). It’s often very, very difficult to get, and don’t even get me started on taxes.

  • Reply

    Ann Gilchrist

    16 weeks ago

    IMPORTANT MESSAGE

    My brother in law disappeared whilst working on a golf course north of Beijing in China. They found his machinery in a lake on the site and later they recovered his body there.
    He was an Irish born American resident, married to my American citizen sister.
    Neither of the two companies involved in this golf course have taken responsibility for his death. There was no autopsy and no report on the vehicle/machinery he was using. There has not been one cent paid in compensation for his death – to his wife and their son.
    The construction company in USA, ‘Flagstick management’ does not operate with insurance for its’ workers – illegal in most states – but not where IT is based. The Chinese company is Pan-China Sports.
    My sister, Morag Walsh and son Ciaran are left with a house that has a mortgage bigger than its’ value thanks to the GFC.
    There appear to be no answers in this tragedy and no compensation either.
    Please share this story so that greedy companies at the very least carry insurance to cover injury to, or death of their workers – so that no other family has to suffer this awful trauma and so that companies can deal compassionately with their workforce, instead of hiding like cowards and evading their responsibilities.
    John was only 39 years old.
    The golfing community must surely be shocked by such a lack of basic humanity within the workings of the very foundations on which the game is played.
    If you can think of anything or contact anyone to help bring closure for my sister please help.
    Yours sincerely
    Ann Gilchrist.

  • Reply

    Rebecca

    16 weeks ago

    I agree wholeheartedly with your message HOWEVER I need you to go back and do some research on emerging African economies. Africa is by no way light years behind Southeast Asia and South America. Regardless of what the media chooses to portray, Africa, especially the East African region is growing faster then ever. As a 22 year old American living and working in Nairobi,,, (which is in Kenya, in case your lack of research had you believe Africa was a county), I have met countless Western expats whos standard of living is far beyond what they could ever imagine obtaining in the States.

    If you want to encourage Americans to become “global citizens” I suggest you educate yourself on possibilities in emerging marketing across the ENTIRE world!! Do better.

  • Reply

    Bhadra

    15 weeks ago

    As an Indian living in KL, I would say that many privileged Asians actually experience reverse culture shock when they go to countries like the USA, UK, or Australia. They expect it to be like how it is potrayed in Hollywood, but it is not.

    • Reply

      Mark

      15 weeks ago

      Yes! There’s something called “Paris Syndrome.” It was named for Japanese tourists who visited Paris and became so disappointed and depressed with the reality that they had to be hospitalized.

  • Reply

    Alexz

    15 weeks ago

    Thank you for writing this and your other articles. After reading this, I am finally confident that my choice to move away from the U.S. (at least for a bit) is the right one and that it doesn’t need to be half as scary as I’ve made myself think it will be.

  • Reply

    Elle

    13 weeks ago

    Anyone know how to find opportunities in health care administration abroad?
    Thanks!

  • Reply

    alex

    6 weeks ago

    you talked about Kuala Lumpur’s indoor roller coaster at the mall there. That is nothing new, If you live in Minnesota you most likely have been to the MOA (mall of america) that has roller coaster rides.Use to be camp snoopy but was bought out and turned into nickelodeon universe.

    • Reply

      Sidra

      4 weeks ago

      If all you got from this article is that your neighborhood mall also has a roller coaster so there is nothing cool about traveling then please, please stay in your little, lovely (i wanted to put shitty but didn’t want to sound like an asshole) town. I am extremely grateful that traveling shows us many sides of the world and the people in it.

  • Reply

    Alan

    4 weeks ago

    One of the best articles in the internets

  • Reply

    Sandra

    3 weeks ago

    Please inform yourselves about the US taxes and FATCA and FBAR requirements before working in any other countries. USA has citizenship based taxation and if you choose to live and work in another country you will be subject to both US taxes and the country of your chosen residence. This law is quite far reaching and it is worth checking into before you make a decision. Otherwise one is in for a big surprise and the penalties are terrific. Check out the IRS site and also American Citizens Abroad website. This law went into effect July 1/14. Banks in some countries are refusing to accept Americans as clients and are closing out their accounts because of this law.
    Just sayin’

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