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10 Step guide to Making the Most of a Short-Term International Assignment in Qatar

Short-term business assignments can seem like a “glamorous” chance to experience a foreign country without having to move your family or uproot your life. 
Expats often arrive in a country and enter an initial “honeymoon” stage where everything about their new environment is exciting and wonderful. However, for many, these feelings are quickly replaced by a sense of disorientation and isolation.
Living and working far away from home without the support of friends and family has its challenges. But, by proactively identifying concerns, adopting small changes and remaining flexible, you can make the most of your short-term assignment.
Embrace the culture. 
Though you may feel studying a new language isn’t worth the time investment because your stay is so short, learning commonly used phrases, courtesy words and how to order your favorite meal can significantly improve your experience. 
Further your understanding by learning about the history, current events and unspoken cultural rules of the country you are living in. Resolve to try new things: by making the most of your stay you will end up feeling less isolated and return home with a broadened perspective. 
Family. 
Leaving your friends and family behind can be challenging, particularly if you are separated by time zones. This distance can put a significant strain on your relationships. 
If you have children, your spouse may feel like a “single parent” dealing with the demands of the family all on their own. You may start to feel disconnected after missing out on milestones in your kids’ lives like a school play or a first date. By setting aside time in your day to speak to your family, sending regular e-mails and postcards, you can maintain important connections.
Close the gap.
Involve your family in your stay so that they can envision your day-to-day life by sending pictures or videos of your home, office and travels. If you’re in a relationship, you and your partner need to acknowledge the unique challenges each of you are facing. 
Tell your partner how much you appreciate what they’re doing for your family and remind loved ones that you miss them.
Stay healthy. 
While abroad, you may find that you end up working long hours and weekends with no one to rush home to. This “all work and no play” lifestyle can boost your stress levels and leave you neglecting your nutritional and exercise needs. Or, if in a city, you may find you take refuge in familiar fast food chains because struggling with new foods and language in the grocery store can be overwhelming. Though it may take some effort, do your best to make healthy food choices on the road. Enlist the support of a colleague to give you a tour of local shops and markets so you can cook whenever possible. Fit exercise into your daily routine whether it’s taking the stairs to work, walking through the airport instead of taking a shuttle, or doing sit ups and push-ups in your room.  Your work term can actually be a great excuse to adopt a healthy lifestyle. 
Create a “home.” 
You may not see a point to improving your short-term living space, but a sterile or lifeless home can leave you feeling unsettled or emotionally disconnected. By simply displaying a few pictures, familiar objects, and comfort items you can make your home a “retreat” instead of just a place to “lay your head.” When travelling from place to place, be sure to unpack your suitcase, put your book on the night table and place your toothbrush by the sink. It will only take a couple of minutes and will help you feel much more settled on your journey.
Establish a routine. 
One of the hardest parts of business travel is the lack of routine. Although travel itself is very unpredictable, you can maintain order: make lists, carry an agenda, frequent the same hotels and if possible, call home at the same time. Try setting non-work related goals like reading everyday and cooking meals to encourage your routine. Don’t abandon the lifestyle you’ve grown accustomed to in your home country. If possible, maintain the hobbies you’ve always enjoyed while trying new things you’ve never experienced.
Make connections. 
You may have come into this assignment expecting to establish strong relationships with your colleagues or the communities. But if you don’t speak the language and are unfamiliar with the culture, you may be feeling very lonely. Build relationships with local people both in and out of the workplace. While you may feel physically worn out, why not accept that offer from a colleague to go to a cultural festival or dinner? You’ll not only learn more about your associates, but will also gain insight into the culture. This can improve your experience personally and also enhance professional relationships that can help ensure the success of your business assignment. Even if it’s making connections with the individual who drops off your mail or the vendor at the roadside food cart, these interactions will help encourage cultural learning, provide alternate support systems and enrich your journey overall.
Seek support. 
When culture shock creeps in, it can seem like no one “gets you.” While immersing yourself in your host country can be a liberating experience, it can also feel very lonely at times. Fortunately, in today’s wired world, it’s easier than ever to connect with expatriates working in the same area or to others with similar experiences. Whether you meet up at a local restaurant weekly or just provide support virtually, it can be very helpful to talk to someone who can relate to the ups and downs of working abroad.
Prepare for climate changes. 
The effects of culture shock can increase if you’re working in a different climate than you’re used to. It can also be hard on your body if frequent travel exposes you to a range of temperatures. If you are experiencing changing climates and levels of sun exposure, consider taking a daily dose of Vitamin D. Also, always ensure you keep climate in mind when you’re packing and prepare for potential changes. If you have always been an outdoorsy person, don’t let a different climate stop you. Look into outdoor activities specific to the country, make sure you’re dressed for the weather, and get some fresh air.
Combat “jet stress.” 
Bouncing around between time zones can cause digestive problems, muscle aches and concentration difficulties. Many expats experience chronic jet lag and this is particularly limiting when you’re under constant pressure to be productive. 
Although it can’t be avoided, minimize the impact of jet lag by:
Changing your watch as soon as you enter a new time zone to update your mental clock. 
Getting lots of sleep before leaving on business. 
Drinking plenty of water and limiting your caffeine consumption. 
Moving around as much as possible in-flight.
There are many challenges to overcome when you’re on an expatriate assignment—particularly short-term ones with lots of business travel. But by keeping an open mind and making a few strategic changes, you’ll be on your way to creating a foreign assignment that isn’t just a wonderful, eye-opening experience, but a life-altering adventure. 
At QShield, we are aware and proud of our services impact on people’s lives, and we are always willing to answer inquiries regarding business setup or moving to Qatar because we realize that beyond the corporate strategies and objectives, we are professionals helping other professionals in various sectors starting a new life in a new destination and we take this task very seriously. 
To know more how our team of experts and full range of services can help you meet your requirements contact us today.
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