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Living in a new environment provides you with lifelong impressions and impulses. You will be living and working together with new friends, colleagues and neighbours. Being at work, and finding your place there, is a big part of this.
In your work place you might find that the working culture is different from back home, with an organisational structure which is unlike what you are used to, and with colleagues and leaders who have other opinions than you.
Right now, you might have a bunch of ideas of how you can contribute in your new job, and how your skills and competence may be useful for your hosts. Great! Do remember, though, that your hosts are also very well qualified, although they may do the various tasks and operations differently from what you are used to. With a humble approach, and by showing willingness to adapt to the new environment, you may experience that your hosts are more open to your suggestions and ideas.
Also remember that your assignment is two-fold: FK exchanges are based on equity and reciprocity; you are there to learn as well as to share. It is our experience that FK participants often contribute more when they return home than when they are on exchange, so be an active listener and learner, and always be searching for new learning to bring back home.
To help you adapt, we recommend that you identify mutual expectations with both your home partner and your host partner prior to the exchange. Try to get a picture of what your work will be like, clarify the reporting routines (how often, how formal and to whom) etc.
Though most experiences are positive, you should also be prepared for the opposite.
If your work situation proves to be problematic, you should first try to solve the problems with your host partner. If your initial efforts are not successful, you may contact your home partner for further assistance in resolving any difficulties. You have a personal responsibility to approach any problem with sensitivity and care, and to take initiatives to improve your work situation.
- Based on what you know so far, what are your expectations to your exchange? What do you expect from your new job in your host organisation? What do you think might be challenging? What are you looking forward to? How can you contribute? What do you expect to learn?
- If you have not yet discussed mutual expectations with your home partner, ask for a meeting to clarify all the questions you have now.