moving abroad intercultural

Picture by vancouverfilmschool (Flickr)

Due to globalisation the importance of intercultural competence, and therefore of intercultural training, has risen enormously. Not only as an expat do you have to deal with many foreign cultures, but also in your own country while working with foreign colleagues, customers or suppliers.

To meet this demand, many companies have specialised in intercultural training for individuals or to internationally-operating businesses. What are the benefits of doing an intercultural training course before moving abroad? Does it really help you to adapt to a foreign culture?


The overall objective of intercultural training is to gain intercultural competence. This means you should become sensitive towards cultural differences and not only tolerate them, but accept and understand them.

Intercultural competence can be divided into three dimensions. Therefore, intercultural training can have three different objectives:

  • Cognitive objectives: The participants have to understand their own cultural origins influence their interactions and their perception of other cultures. You will have a closer look at the importance of culture and cultural differences in general.
  • Affective objectives: These refer attitudes and help people to learn to control their emotions while interacting with foreign cultures.
  • Behaviour-oriented objectives: The aim is to learn methods and techniques in order to adapt your own behaviour to foreign cultures.

Training methods

You can use four different methods to carry out intercultural training. The culture-general method aims to raise general awareness of cultural differences and characteristics. In comparison to that, the culture-specific method gives particular advice on how to both act and interact in a specific culture.

Both methods can be realised in two different ways, on a didactic level or experience-based. The didactic version includes lectures, discussions, videos and tends to communicate cognitive knowledge such as theoretical concepts. The experience-based method works with simulations and role plays to simulate possible situations you could come across dealing with foreign cultures.

You can combine the four different methods any way you think would be best for your aims and audience.


Intercultural training can broaden your horizon. If you have never been abroad for long periods you should consider attending a training event. For expats, the most appropriate one might be the culture-specific training, since you probably know where you are moving. Culture-specific training provides important information on specific cultural characteristics, which might be very helpful in your daily life abroad.

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of training methods is quite difficult to measure. This is why many people criticise intercultural training, but companies should see the benefits of investing in such training. Employees are prepared for what they can expect while living and working in a foreign country. This speeds up the settling-in phase. It helps employees to adapt more quickly and therefore be more productive, since they do not experience problems with misunderstandings caused by previously unknown cultural differences.

You should inform yourself of possible training methods for your journey abroad. Here you can find more information on intercultural training and how it could benefit you.