If you are about to take an international assignment, it is important to know that as you acclimate to your new host country, you will learn about your new host country’s holidays, festivals, celebrations and customs. It will be an exciting part of your adventure and important for you to become acquainted. These holidays and customs of your host country will affect your daily life and you will need to be aware of them so that you are prepared. It will affect your ability to conduct business and manage employees. It will affect you daily routine on whether or not you can shop for provisions or not. It is not uncommon for a town to close to celebrate a holiday or festival, which could make it very difficult for you if you are not prepared. Coming from many western cultures, we have adapted to keep several conveniences open, but this may be nonexistent in your new host country. Therefore, take heed and warnings from locals. If they say that the holiday will close things in town, listen.
It may take some adjustment but instead of focusing on the inconveniences, think about the opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture. Many of these festivals take on a life of its own and are widely celebrated. Don’t be afraid to ask and learn. Locals will see that you are making the effort and will often times include you with open arms. Learning about these customs will also help prevent you from inadvertently offending your colleagues. Sometimes you will not even realize what you have done. You can get a feeling from the nuances of their reaction. Ally yourself with a colleague who will not have a problem telling you what you did. He or she will help you navigate the cultural landscape to make your experience more enjoyable.