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The Challenges Of Working In Two Countries

The challenges of working in two countries

It’s been almost a decade since I started to combine my positions in Ecuador and the Netherlands. I’ve learned a few things along the way that may be of value to those considering a similar way of employment.

My arrangement is a good fit for my interests and research, as well as for me personally. At the same time, working in two countries comes with some particular challenges. If you are thinking about applying for a similar setup, this is what you should keep in mind:

  • Time zone differences: If you work in two different timezones, it is important that those you work with know when you are available and that you set boundaries to your work time (if not, you’ll end up like me in Fall 2020, when I took calls with the Netherlands at 6am because we were in lockdown anyway but also was teaching for my university in Ecuador until 9:30 pm in the MEng program).
  • Data management: If you travel between countries, you can’t expect to have all your books and physical copies in one single place. You’ll need to think twice about how you will be able to access your data from the different places where you work. This issue has become less important with COVID, as we have learned to work from wherever.
  • Tenure and promotion requirements: If you have a special shared appointment, you probably fall outside of the requirements for those who are full-time. Navigating the requirements may become a challenge, or you may find that you don’t have anybody who is in your situation that you can talk to.
  • Short-term housing and childcare: If you go from one place to the other, you either need to pay rent/mortgage in two places, or find short-term housing. If you have children, you may find that you will need to think about a childcare solution in both places. Short-term options are always difficult to find and require some creativity.

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