As a young foreigner working abroad, there are a number of things you should make sure of:
- Find out the location of your home country’s consular office in the city where you are based
- Save its phone number among your priority numbers
- In the unlikely even you find yourself in legal difficulties, you are entitled to consular representation – do not be afraid to ask
- Find out whether you are required by law to carry identity documents such as a passport or ID card with you at all times. This is the case, for example, in France
- However, in Eastern Europe you should not carry your passport with you. Your employer will have registered you with the police and that will be enough if official identification is required.
- Keep your passport (or ID card) safe at all times
- Keep a photocopy of your passport (or ID card) safe in a different place.
- Cultures and customs vary from country to country and one of the pleasures of working abroad is to delve into a different culture.
Watch out, though! Some things you wouldn’t give a second thought to at home may be hugely important in another country.
For example, in German cities jaywalking can land you into trouble. Make sure you wait for the green light for pedestrians before crossing the street.
Whereas many Western European countries and the major Canadian and USA cities share similar liberal social values and assumptions, Eastern European countries can be quite different.
So, although basic laws on homosexuality in Eastern Europe are now in line with the European Union’s, social attitudes can be a lot more restrictive.
Our research indicates that attitudes to homosexuality range from relatively liberal in the Czech Republic to very homophobic in Romania (we’re leaving Russia out of this scale).
Our advice, if you are gay and about to take up work in Eastern Europe: be very discreet in public places.