Tag Archives: international transition

Three Healthcare Tips for Your Big Move


The holidays are upon us and Global Perceptions wants to reward you by givingIMG_0592[1] you 12 DAYS OF FREE GIFTS! Here are our relocation tips for DAY 4!


Three Healthcare Tips for Your Big Move

By Jennifer Alvarez and Julie Parenteau


Remaining healthy during your relocation process, as well as maintaining your health abroad, is vital. To stay healthy, Global Perceptions recommends taking the following precautions.  

  1. Medical Coverage.  If you are relocating due to your job, make sure to clarify
    Learn about healthcare procedures in your host country before leaving.

    Learn about healthcare procedures in your host country before leaving.

    what will be covered in your host country. If you will need to transfer your medical insurance, make sure you complete this transaction immediately after arrival. This will ensure that you and your family will be covered in case of a medical emergency.


  1.    Vaccinations. Most countries share the same series of vaccinations.  In some cases, depending on the country you are relocating to, there may be additional mandatory vaccinations that need to be completed before you travel there. Aside from mandatory vaccinations, check to see what vaccinations may be recommended, but not required.  The main point is to protect yourself against various diseases that some countries have that others do not.


  1. Medication Supply.  Make sure you receive at least a one month supply of all

    Get your prescriptions filled prior to departure.

    medications for all family members before you depart.  It may take some time to finalize your medical insurance paperwork and locate a primary health care physician.  You do not want to run out of your much needed medication before you are able to obtain a refill.

Taking these measures will help you and your family stay physically healthy so that you can focus more on staying emotionally healthy during this trying time.


For more relocation advice for your move to Puerto Rico or beyond, please contact Global Perceptions. Or visit us on Facebook and Twitter!

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Wake-up Call

Written by Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D., President of Global Perceptions Communication and Relocation Consulting


 Wake-up Call

IMAG0142Cocka doodle doo! Cocka doodle doo!

It’s early morning and the sky is still black. The normally bustling neighborhood is silent at this hour. Then it hits again.

Cocka doodle doo! Cocka doodle doo!

“All right, already, I’m awake,” I shout.

Through sleep-mattered eyes I peer at the clock—4:30am. It’s much too early for me to be awake, especially in the middle of July when there are no classes in session. This is supposed to be the time when I make up for all of the quality sleep time that I missed last semester, but it appears that someone, or rather something, has a different opinion.

Cocka doodle doo! Cocka doodle doo!

“All right, that’s it! I’m coming after you, you stupid bird!”

Feeling my blood boil, I wrap a pillow around my head. I have had enough of that ridiculous rooster waking me up before the crack of dawn, and I’ve only been here for a week. “So this is how the farmers live,” I think. The problem is that I am far from anything that resembles a farm to me and even when I lived in the small farm towns of Wisconsin, I was never bothered by a
P1020488self important rooster. Now that I am in the middle of a major metropolitan area, I certainly did not think that a rooster waking me up would be one of my dilemmas. Traffic jams and long lines were things that I expected. A rooster was not. I began to wonder just how people lived here. I mean why is there a rooster in the neighbor’s yard in the middle of the city anyway? This simply made no reasonable sense to me.

The next few minutes were silent and I drifted back to sleep. Dreams of the peaceful countryside back home filled my head allowing me to calm down. Half an hour later though, the rooster was back to his antics. “This is too much. How am I ever going to manage to survive here if I can’t even get a good night’s sleep?” I wonder. Giving up on sleep for the moment, I turn on the television. The bird may have won today, but I vow to win the overall tug of war battle with that bird. Before long, he will have met his match.

Or so I thought…fast-forward seven years and now all of my neighbors have roosters. In that time, I have learned to sleep through their wake-up calls and largely ignore then during the day. They no longer annoy me like they once did. Now my biggest concern is keeping my dogs from killing the darn roosters. In the beginning this challenge seemed insurmountable. Now it is an everyday occurrence. I guess the rooster won after all.

Two hours to the beach


Written by Julie L. Parenteau, Ph.D., President of Global Perceptions Communication and Relocation Consulting


I have had an interesting journey through my almost seven years in Puerto Rico. Until recently, I didn’t think that my story was all that special. A dear friend convinced me that we are all meant to tell our stories. With that in mind, I have gone back through my early writings to share some of my adventures with you.


Two hours to the beach

trafficIt’s now been two weeks since I arrived on the island. Determined not to let another day go by without a trip to the beach, I pack my sunscreen, towel, and a fashion magazine. Sliding my sunglasses over my ears, I give myself a pep talk and get into the red Honda that I am borrowing for the day. I slowly back out of the driveway and make my way onto the Expreso. Driving amidst the other cars on the highway is still my biggest fear. Not only do I have no idea where I’m going, but people constantly cut me off under the assumption that a turn-signal is an unnecessary form of communication. That really ticks me off. Back home someone who forgets to use their turn signal is considered rude. It’s only polite to indicate your desire to turn in a certain direction, allowing the surrounding traffic ample time to get out of the way. Knowing that it’s likely someone is going to cut me off, I pay extra attention to the surrounding traffic, often missing the sign for my exit.


But today, I am determined to find the one beach that I know how to access. There is no entrance fee and there is usually ample parking, so going to Isla Verde sounds ideal. Approaching the tunnel, several cars zoom from lane to lane in front of

minillas tunnelme. It’s dark in the tunnel and the lack of turn signals frightens me. I have no idea which way to go and am afraid to move from my position for fear of hitting someone. In the process of thinking through all of this, I veer to the left, heading toward San Juan. After a mile, I realize that I have made a mistake. I should have gone to the right as I exited the tunnel. Trying to correct my error, I pull off the highway and find myself in Condado. I recognize a few familiar sights. The water is several blocks away, but I can make out the crystal blue color in the distance.

“Well, I could go to this beach instead,” I say out loud. Changing my original plan, I look around for a parking space. After several blocks there is no space to be found—at least not any that I am willing to pull into in a borrowed car. I travel down a cross street trying to find a way back to the highway. The road seems to go East so I keep following it, hoping that it will eventually get me to Isla Verde. Feeling more confident, I travel on. Ten more minutes go by and then it appears on the horizon—El Morro. “How could this be? I was sure I was going toward Isla Verde.” Not knowing whether to laugh or cry at this point, I keep driving. “Eventually I am going to reach Isla Verde,” I state hesitantly.


I manage to get out of Old San Juan without too much trouble since I stayed in a hotel there on a previous trip. Passing by an area of hotels and restaurants that I recognize, I begin to get comfortable again. This time I am definitely going toward Isla Verde. I can see the highway and carefully merge with the traffic again. I go South, assuming that I’ll be able to get off near the tunnel and turn around.


“This looks like a promising exit. Let me take this one.” I pull off and immediately realize that this is not the exit that I should have taken. Again I am forced to search through the streets for an entrance back to the highway. Block after block passes, but I have no idea where I am. Eventually I realize that I have been driving the wrong way in a bus-only lane when a not-so-kind sizzlertaxi driver scolds me from his own vehicle. Feeling exasperated and frustrated, I finally find something that looks familiar. To my chagrin it looks familiar because I was just at this same spot twenty minutes earlier. For the third time in the last hour I pass by the Sizzler.


“Maybe I’m not supposed to go to the beach today,” I confess. Ready to give up, I get back on the highway and decide to go back home. Along the way, my determination rears its head again. By the time that I reach the exit for my neighborhood, I decide to try one more time. Now I know that I have to go to the right in the tunnel so maybe I will actually get there if I just start over. With a sense of renewed confidence, I turn the car around.


Half an hour later, I finally park the car in front of the beautiful blue waters. “I did it!” I find a space under a large palm tree and spread my towel over the fine grains of sand. Settling into an article in my magazine, I congratulate myself on overcoming the challenge of getting to this beach. It took me two hours, but I finally did it, and I did it all by myself. “See Julie, you just need some practice. You’ll get the hang of this,” I tell myself. Ten blissful minutes pass by and then they come—big, wet raindrops. “Just my luck, I guess I really wasn’t meant to be on the beach today.” I toss my wet towel and beach bag in the back seat and decide that a mid-afternoon nap could offer a bit of reprieve from what has happened over the last few hours. Fortunately by now, I know the way home.100_0117


For more information on Global Perceptions or its President, Dr. Julie Parenteau, please visit http://globalperceptions.net/ or our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Relocation.Specialist.PuertoRico

In the Beginning

Nearly seven years ago I got on the plane in Chicago and landed in San Juan. As I reached for my oversized suitcases at the lower level baggage claim, a man said “I hope you’re moving here with all those bags.” I responded, “Yeah, I am, thanks.” Assisted by one of the porters, I managed to get my luggage out the door. Outside the gate some Puerto Rican friends that I met in graduate school greeted me beneath the stars and humidity-drenched air. We stopped by the grocery store for a few essentials and then they took me to the house where I would stay while I searched for an apartment. That was how my journey started…


The first two weeks were the worst. My original plans for making the move had changed and I was now all on my own. It was early July so it was really hot and sticky, which caused the power to go out on several occasions. Not only was there no air-conditioning in those moments, but there was no fan and I couldn’t get the electric garage door open to leave. I was miserable. To add to that, I didn’t know where anything was and didn’t speak Spanish like the locals despite having studied Spanish for years. And the idea of venturing into what I deemed “treacherous traffic” was frightening, especially when driving a friend’s car. I began to wonder if I had made a big mistake.


Luckily for me, I found a small studio where I could live for as long as I needed. This at least gave me a project to develop. I ventured to the Kmart down the road and picked up a few furnishings, bed sheets, pots, and silverware. I tried to make the space my own as much as possible so I could begin to feel comfortable. It wasn’t exactly home, but it would work until a better option came along.


When my friends came back from vacation, I felt much better. At least I had someone to talk to and was no longer alone. They were very kind to me. We hung out a lot in the beginning and they filled me in on a lot of the “dos and don’ts” of living in Puerto Rico. When life got tough, they were there to support me and encourage me to keep going.


School started about six weeks after my arrival. Having a job and being surrounded by students gave me a sense of purpose. I was somebody, not just a shadow in a cramped room. As with any new job, the learning curve was steep, but my students
genuinely wanted me to succeed. They taught me about the culture and told me about places to visit. They made a difference in my life. I began to feel more confident as the semester progressed.


But that was just the beginning…


Seven years later, I look back on that experience and am surprised by how vividly I remember those initial feelings. It has been a long, hard road, but the friends that I have made along the way have helped me learn that taking the path less traveled opens up so many more possibilities in life. I would like to thank them and my students. I wouldn’t have made it without them.

5 Relocation Tips for Kids: Pre-departure

I remember sitting at the dining room table in our family home outside Minneapolis when I was about 7 years old. The dinner conversation somehow turned to moving and my parents said that they did not think we would ever move. Boy, were they wrong! By the time I finished high school, I had attended six different schools in four different communities in two different states. All of that change was hard. Leaving old friends behind and having to make new friends every few years was challenging, but when I look back on it all now, I realize that all that change has made me the person that I am today.

Today I use those skills to help prepare other people for the challenges of learning to live in a new community. That includes working with children. Since I know what it’s like to be the new kid on the block (several times over), I want to share some insights with kids going through this process. The following are a few helpful tips for preparing kids for moving day.

  1. Research your new town. Ask your parents to help you find information on the internet about where you will live. Check the population. Look at the weather. Discover what kinds of museums, theaters, or other attractions they have.
  2. Take a virtual tour of the school on their website. Find out what the classrooms look like. Look at pictures of other students. Read about the lunch program or after school activities. Learn which books you will use and whether or not uniforms are required.
  3. Learn some basic phrases in the new language. Even simple things like “Hi, my name is_______” or “What’s your name?” can give you the confidence to interact with your peers.
  4. Talk to your parents about how you feel and ask questions. Discuss your feelings of excitement and anxiety about the move with your parents. Ask them to explain why this move is so important and how it will affect you. Whenever a doubt arises, ask them.
  5. Pack some of your favorite toys, books, and pictures. Being away from everything that is familiar is tough. That’s why I recommend bringing some of your favorite items with you. They can provide a sense of familiarity in a place that is so different from what you’re used to.

These are just a few ideas to help you get ready for the big move. I hope they help you feel more comfortable about moving. Overall, the key is to stay positive. It is okay to have some fears because everything is so uncertain during this time, but look on the bright side through it all. An incredible new adventure is waiting for you on the other side!


Global Perceptions, your relocation authority, offers communication and relocation consulting services to people of all ages. Contact us today for more information!

Personal Space in Intercultural Settings

Proxemics, or the study of space and how we use it, significantly impacts communication across cultures. People who grow up in the same region inherently understand the rules for how to use space even though they may have learned those rules unconsciously. Those rules only come into question when people break them. If you have ever had a conversation with someone and felt uncomfortable because the person was either too close or too far away for your tastes, you know what I’m talking about.

Anthropologist and renowned intercultural researcher Edward T. Hall is credited with establishing this field of study in the 1950s. He posited that North Americans had four space distances. They include: intimate, casual-personal, social, and public. Only people you know on an intimate level are allowed in the intimate space, while friends are allowed in the casual-personal region. Note that the casual-personal region affords enough space for the two people to avoid touching, but still is close enough for people to use their everyday voices. At 4-12 feet, the social region is used to conduct business. Beyond that is the public space, which is usually used for formal presentations.

If you will be traveling to another country or otherwise interacting with people from a specific region and want to know what their space expectations are, consider researching the way land is divided in their home country. In North America, for instance, suburban and rural houses are built with a sizable area of land around them. In small countries, there is limited space so homes are constructed much closer together. In places like Japan or Puerto Rico, people are accustomed to living in tight quarters so touching is expected. People who stand at a distance are considered cold or even rude. In North America, people expect their distance to be respected. Standing too close to them makes them very uncomfortable.

Even though you may have no conscious intention of offending others, the conversational distance that you choose may in fact be considered offensive. Before you get into these situations, do your homework. Discover what the cultural norms are for that culture and do your best to work within them. This may mean stepping out of your comfort zone, but it will help communication proceed more smoothly so that you can concentrate on what the person is saying and not on how close or far away the person is.

For more intercultural communication tips, join your Global Perceptions, your relocation authority, on Facebook and Twitter!

Importance of cultural adaptation training in Puerto Rico

window in old san juanThe day has come! Your big move to Puerto Rico is before you! Your entire family, including the family pet have landed on the Island of Enchantment with visions of days spent on the beach in your heads. Just beyond those wishful thoughts, it’s likely that there’s also some uncertainty, confusion, or even disbelief swimming around. Even though Puerto Rico falls under the government policies of the United States, it is not the United States. Things work differently here and if you want to understand how they work, one of the best ways is to participate in a cultural adaptation training program. Cultural trainers, like those at Global Perceptions, offer insight and experience that only those who have been through the adaptation process can really understand.

Take it from me, Dr. Julie Parenteau, President of Global Perceptions, living in Puerto Rico without any cultural or linguistic knowledge makes life very difficult. When I moved here in 2006 communicating with native Puerto Ricans was extremely challenging both because I had trouble understanding them, and because they didn’t understand the words I learned during 10 years of Spanish instruction. Not having a corporate sponsor also forced me to do everything on my own. If I had had a Global Perceptions cultural training program, I would have understood more and had fewer problems during my cultural transition.

Without such a program, I spent the first three years perpetually lost. It didn’t matter where I went, I would get turned around all because I didn’t understand where anything was in relation to anything else. I got in the wrong lines, wound up in areas where a single woman shouldn’t have been, spent much more than necessary for everyday services, and generally felt frustrated.

playa sucia

This doesn’t have to be your experience! Don’t allow yourself to agonize and lose sleep over your relocation to Puerto Rico. Make the decision today to invest in yourself with our cultural adaptation training programs! Puerto Rico is an amazing country with so much to offer, so let us help you navigate your trip.


For more information about cultural adaptation training programs offered by Global Perceptions, your relocation authority in Puerto Rico, contact us at 787.455.7764 or visit our webpage: www.globalperceptions.net. We will happily prepare a proposal free of charge!

Cultural Training in Puerto Rico: Global Perceptions Offers the Whole Package

Are you new to Puerto Rico? Have you participated in a cultural training program yet? If so, your cultural training experience likely consisted of theoretical knowledge about one of the many cultural adaptation models, basic tourist information, and some highlights of the host country. When the adaptation program was over, did you feel any more comfortable or confident about living in Puerto Rico? Major corporations invest thousands of dollars in your adjustment process, yet most people walk away from those cultural training programs without the practical knowledge that they need to deal with the day-to-day life.                                      

What if there were a company that not only offered a more application-oriented cultural training program than that mentioned above, but also assisted you with establishing your phone, cable or electric service, getting your driver’s license or buying a car, finding service professionals like doctors, dentists, hair stylists or housekeepers, obtaining government documents, making appointments, and provided on-going coaching services? You’re in luck! Global Perceptions, your Puerto Rico Relocation Specialist, offers this and more. We don’t believe in leaving you high and dry post-cultural training. Instead, we are there to assist you through every step of the challenging adaptation process. Whether you need a little or a lot of help, our staff welcomes the opportunity to help you through this cultural transition.

Not a Spanish speaker? We can help with that too! Our innovative Spanish-language curriculum is custom-designed with the individual and his/her specific needs in mind. We help you get around town, make formal business presentations, and everything in between. You will learn at your pace from bilingual education professionals who are committed to your progress.

There you have it! Global Perceptions is your relocation solution in Puerto Rico because we offer the Whole Package. We will be there with you every step of the way!

If you have been through a cultural training program, but still feel lost in Puerto Rico, contact Global Perceptions today by calling 787.455.7764 or visiting www.globalperceptions.net

Ten Tips for Relocating to Puerto Rico

Legally Puerto Ricans are Americans, but culturally the country and people are quite different from the mainland. People who come to Puerto Rico thinking that their experience will mirror living at home just because they see Walgreen’s on every corner and can shop at JCPenney, Kmart or Home Depot soon discover that they are mistaken. Puerto Rico is a different country and those relocating to Puerto Rico should recognize that. Spanish is the dominant language, rice and beans are the main dishes, and radio stations play everything from salsa to reggaeton to ballads. The differences don’t end there. Want to be better prepared for your cultural transition to Puerto Rican life? Start with these 10 tips!

  1. Be open-minded and flexible.
  2. Do your research. Read about the history and political situation on the island.
  3. Read between the lines. Learn to recognize when yes means yes and when it really means no.
  4. Learn to be patient because you will wait in line.
  5. Don’t expect to accomplish as much in a day as you would in the States. It will only frustrate you.
  6. Don’t bring valuable furniture, artwork, or photos. The humidity can ruin them.
  7. Learn to expect the unexpected while driving.
  8. Explore beyond the shore.Puerto Rico offers much more than beaches.
  9. Don’t procrastinate. Pay bills, buy groceries, and take care of household items ahead of time.
  10. Start taking Spanish classes shortly after arrival. Even if you speak some Spanish, you will likely struggle simply because the Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico is challenging even for native Spanish-speakers.

These tips will prepare you for the everyday situations that you will encounter while relocating to Puerto Rico; however, keep in mind that each person has his or her own experience upon arrival. Tips like these can make your relocation experience smoother, but they do not take the place of actually relocating to Puerto Rico. Talk with locals and non-Puerto Ricans about their experiences living in Puerto Rico. Find out what suggestions they have. Listen and learn from them. There will likely be moments of frustration, but if you keep focusing on the positive and take good care of yourself, you will enjoy all that Puerto Rico has to offer.

To register for your FREE copy of the upcoming DVD “Getting Your Feet Wet: Top Ten Tips for Adjusting to Puerto Rico,” go right now to Global Perceptions on Facebook.