I Should Have Said That!: A Follow Up to the 3-Day International Living Challenge

On August 15th, I took part in the 3-Day International Living Challenge where I had the opportunity to do a live stream interview with Chizzy Igbokwe and share some of my advice on how to find work abroad.

Not surprisingly, the hours after the interview were filled with “OH I SHOULD HAVE SAID SOMETHING ABOUT THAT” moments. In an effort to go back in time, here are a few things I wish I had mentioned during my interview.

Accepting the Sacrifices Required to Live Abroad

One of the most important things to consider when considering moving abroad is: am I okay with the personal sacrifices I am going to have to make?

For me, moving abroad has meant leaving behind a girlfriend who I loved so she could finish university, missing my best friend’s wedding, not seeing my dad for over two years and only seeing my mom once a year. For others, it may mean having family members pass away while they are gone, giving up pets (depending on where you are moving), having less-immediate relationships fizzle out, or a whole host of other sacrifices.

It is easy to daydream about an adventurous life abroad, spending your days in a bikini dancing under a waterfall.  But making a drastic life change like moving to a new country involves serious considerations about important aspects of your personal life. Before you leave, it is important to think about if you are comfortable making those sacrifices to make your life abroad a reality.

Starting an Online Presence/Personal Brand/Portfolio

This is the best advice I can offer about building an online presence: start now. Not next week. Not once you know more about SEO. Not once you have found a logo you like. Get it going now.

Whether you use GoDaddy and WordPress or SquareSpace, you can have a simple but professional site that explains who you are, what you do, and why you are awesome, up and running in a matter of hours. After a few days, you can have a few blog posts posted (or whatever your work samples are), be actively sharing your work on social media and interacting with leaders in your industry.

But to do that requires that you start.

Don’t allow excuses about  “waiting for the right time” stop you.  Get online and start showing the world what you can do.

The clock is ticking.

On Being Honest About Why You Want to Work Abroad

Saying that you want to work abroad is a bit like saying you want to run your own business. It is an easy thing to say, it sounds cool, and the day-dreams are an enticing escape from the daily-grind.

But many people are not honest about why they want to move abroad. Allow me to be explicit: if you want to move abroad to run away from personal problems, you should reconsider. Your emotional, relational, dietary, or romantic issues will follow you across the globe. Not only will they come along for the ride, they will ruin what could be an amazing experience.

Moving abroad is about changing up your life, adding a little adventure, challenging yourself and enjoying personal growth. Those are all good reasons to want to move abroad. But if you are hoping for it to change your diet, or your relationship with your mom, or add spice to your marriage, save yourself time and money by reconsidering.

Treat Your International Job Search Like It’s a Part-Time Job

If you want to work abroad, you need to think of your job search as a part-time job or serious hobby. It should be something that you invest time and thought into;  passively applying to one job through a job board while also scrolling through Facebook does not constitute an international job search.

You should be tracking the emails that you send using a CRM to see which (if any) receive responses, honing your pitch to hiring managers based on the responses you get, and actively pursuing potential contacts through LinkedIn and other social platforms.  

Chances are, you are not going to stumble across an amazing opportunity. You need to have a targeted and focused approach that maximize your chances of getting into contact with the right people, sharing your story, and ultimately getting hired.


If you want to ask me questions more directly, I encourage you to either shoot me an email, or head over to The Three Day International Living Challenge on Facebook and ask a question publicly there so that others can see your question and see my response.


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Aaron Horwath Written by:

Since graduating from the University of Portland in 2014, I have worked abroad. Currently, I live and work in Da Nang, Vietnam as the Head of Global Training at an international technology company. Through my blog, I share my experiences of working abroad to give others a glimpse into international life and help them decide if working internationally is right for them.