Living abroad at the behest of your employer can be an exciting adventure for some. It can also lead to culture-shock, isolation and depression. We quizzed OKI Australia’s globe-trotting managing director about how he adjusts to different work climates (in both senses of the word).
Expat picture from Shutterstock
Yesterday, we caught up with OKI Data Australia’s managing director, Dennie K. Kawahara and asked him about his professional experiences abroad. Kawahara is a Japanese expatriate who has spent more than a decade working in foreign markets, including Europe and multiple locations in the US.
He subsequently has a pretty good insight into how work cultures and attitudes differ from country to country.
“There are difference in every country you need to adjust to and they all have their own character,” Kawahara told Lifehacker. “Even Australia and New Zealand are quite different, despite being close together.
“If you go to Japan, from early morning to late at night, people are constantly working. Over here, when it’s time to leave, [employees] are usually gone, but they still get the work done. So Australians are more relaxed; they know how to strike a good work/life balance.”
Kawahara arrived in Australia following a managing stint in his homeland of Japan looking after Oki’s market development. This meant having to endure two back-to-back winters; one of the unspoken hardships of an expatriate lifestyle.
“I came to Australia expecting the sunlight to last longer. Instead, the days actually got shorter and shorter. It’s amazing how important sunlight is to your sense of well-being,” Kawahara said.
Attempts to immerse himself in the Aussie way of life didn’t always go smoothly either.
“When I first came out here I tried surfing in an attempt to get involved with the culture. I failed very badly,” he joked. “But my son really enjoys it.”
Apart from wintertime blues and the occasional surfing mishap, Kawahara said he has found it quite easy to adjust to life in Australia.
“My wife is actually American, so English speaking countries are pretty easy for me. We’ve settled in well. In many ways, Australia is quite like Florida or California.”
How do you cope while working overseas for prolonged periods and what do you miss the most?