A “look and see trip” (or look-see trip) is a service that is some times provided by companies to singles or families that are moving abroad on an expatriate contract. The purpose of this trip is for the individual or family to see, feel and experience the country and region that they may be moving to in near future. Companies will provide this service only to those who have already agreed beforehand to being flexible and open to such a move. Before flying out to your new destination, you will be contacted by the relocation company working together with your firm to discuss your personal needs and wishes in regards to your future life in the host country. Your particular needs may, for example, include an apartment close to the office or close to the airport, as you will be a frequent traveller in your new position, or it may include a house with three bedrooms and close proximity to an international school of high standards. Your personal wishes may include an ocean view and an apartment close to shops and nightlife, or maybe a swimming pool in the yard and a mall with a supermarket close by. Whatever your needs and wishes consists of, it is important that you do your research beforehand, so that the relocation agency can assist you in the best way possible. Don’t hold back when it comes to expressing your wishes. The more details you can give, the better chance the agency can help with pinpointing your ideal home in the future.
If you are a single person, it will likely be relatively easy for you to find a convenient time to fly out to your future destination and visit your potential future office and explore housing options. If you are part of a family moving abroad, you will need to find a time for travel that is not only convenient for all members of the family, but that will also allow you to visit all the necessary facilities, such as, for example, daycare or schools at the right time. A trip planned during school holidays may not portray an accurate picture of an area, as the amount of traffic can be quite different from it’s usual daily buzz, construction work may be halted temporarily, and daycare and schools may be closed down, or the premises will be running on half-empty.
A typical look and see trip lasts a week. Upon your arrival at your destination, or soon thereafter, an agent from the relocation agency will meet with you at the hotel, or the place where you are staying, to discuss the program of the week. This program is naturally based on the needs and wishes that you have expressed previously. However, if misunderstanding have occurred, then now is the time to correct these before wasting any time seeing things you are not really interested in seeing. The agent will be eager to show you as many things as possible in as little time as possible. If you feel that the program is too overwhelming, do not hesitate to cut down on the programmed activities. Just keep in mind that there will only be one look and see trip!
A standard look and see trip program may look like this:
Welcome package (including brochures of attractions, list of helpful websites, etc.)
Country presentation, cost of living, cross-cultural tips, historical information about your host country.
Home sampling (min. 4-5 housing options)
Visit to daycare or schools (if applicable)
Visit to car dealers and information about car ownership (if applicable)
Familiarization tour, including supermarkets, malls, restaurants, banks, sport centers, etc.
The look and see program usually operates on a half day basis, giving you some free time to do some exploration of your own. You can use this time to visit tourist attractions and shops, or to simply stroll around your preferred area to get a proper sense of the place. For those who are tormented by jet-lag, a well-earned rest after a hectic day may be the top priority!
If you don’t have the option or time available for visiting your future host country, then you can make your own look and see trip by surfing the internet, reading relevant books, looking at films and images from your future destination, and talking to people who have lived there. Thanks to the vast information available to us these days through the internet, chatrooms and satellite images, etc., it is indeed possible to acquire a very good feeling and idea of a country or place that we have not yet visited in real life.
Camilla Dessing, Lic., MSc., is an fully qualified psychologist with many years of experience consulting expat individuals and families. She is currently working at the Center For Psychology ( http://www.center4psy.com ) in Singapore. She highly recommends psychological counseling for expatriates because there is a lot of emotional hardship involved with moving abroad. If you wish to schedule an appointment for individual or couple’s counseling, please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Dessing at Cdessing@center4psyc.com or by calling the Center For Psychology at: (+65) 67332893. Ms. Dessing has many years of successful experience working with expats and with cross-cultural relationships and marriages. She firmly belief that everybody can change through the therapeutic process and that anyone is able to reduce symptoms significantly or overcome entirely their psychological problems, whatever they are, in therapy. Her approach to therapy is client-centered, thus tailored to fit the needs of each individual clients. When needed, and if desired, Ms. Dessing incorporates CBT (cognitive behavioral technique), art therapy, relaxation exercises, mindfulness and psychoanalysis into your specific treatment program.