Professional Culture Shock


It has been ages since I've written and I'm remiss largely due to my own move overseas back to the U.S.

I returned in August, and was given some time off, which was useful and hardly enough. I've been back at work about one month and learning a new job both in terms of how it is perceived from the U.S. as well as a new position has been eye-opening. Since this months' newsletter was about professional culture shock and I'm in the midst of it myself, I thought I'd share my own experiences so far.

Returning to a new house, without all of my goods having also returned has come with its own challenges, namely at work I no longer can ask people to access my house and fix things, I have to plan to do those things on my own. While not a professional culture issue, it is a drastic change that has made me far more respectful of the time that folks spend at the office and numerous challenges they balance, relative to the ease of hired help overseas.

In many ways that change I expected. Because of Nextpat I also expected the shock at prices, at what people cared about, at news in the US, and the grocery store. But the professional one was one I hadn't prepared for!

Professionally, I have found some of the persistent stereotypes coming to life. Offices with a field and domestic component often have some tension, albeit wholly culturally created. The question of what on earth are they doing out there or back there as they case may be, seems awfully persistent. While smacking of poor communication, it also demonstrates a significant difference in expectations of the roles for each office. Like most people, I therefore approached my return to the US with the perspective of how to bring my lessons learned to bear on bridging that gap.

Boy, was I in for a learning curve.