Cultural Intelligence: The Superpower for Expatriates to Thrive in their Life Abroad

At ASI Movers, we know that taking the leap and expatriating involves so much more than boarding a plane and moving belongings.

Once in a brand new environment, developing a sense of belonging and building a setting and routine that feel like home are the key to a successful move abroad.

Indeed, and as noted by researchers, “although globalization has made the world seem smaller and “flat” in many ways, increasing cultural diversity creates challenges for individuals and organizations, making the world ‘not so flat’ after all” (Ang et al., 2007).

In that context, a central concept emerges: cultural intelligence (coined by Earley and Ang in 2003).

In today’s article, we explore the power of cultural intelligence for expatriates and uncover practical strategies to cultivate this invaluable trait.

What Is Cultural Intelligence

Cultural intelligence is defined as an individual’s capability to function and operate effectively in diverse settings.

Simply put, and in the case of expatriation, cultural intelligence is the ability to build cultural bridges and thrive in new environments.

More precisely, it helps you connect with people from different backgrounds,understand and appreciate diverse customs, values, and behaviors, adapt and communicate effectively across cultural boundaries, and equips expats with knowledge, mindfulness, adaptability, and communication abilities.

A Positive Impact on Your Personal and Professional Life

Many researchers have noted the positive impact cultural intelligence has on the lives of those who live abroad, and how it helps them navigate their new environment!

1.  A Positive Infuence on Your Professional Life

As highlighted by Forbes, cultural intelligence is essential to the success of international assignments. Indeed, developing this skill will likely have a very positive influence on your professional life!

  • Enhanced Adaptability:
    It enhances your adaptability and capacity to transition smoothly to new environments, teams and practices, thus increasing the success rate of your missions and projects.
  • Improved Communication Skills:
    It improves your communication skills, allowing to effectively convey ideas, negotiate, and collaborate across cultural boundaries.
  • Building Meaningful Relationships:
    It allows you to more easily build meaningful relationships and trust with colleagues, communities, business partners, etc., thus fostering stronger connections and facilitating teamwork and networking.
  • Increased Problem-Solving Abilities:
    It increases your problem-solving abilities and capacity to navigate complex situations in diverse cultural contexts, leading to innovative solutions that are sure to participate in your projects' success.
  • Career Advancement:
    It fosters career advancement as global individuals who developed cultural intelligence are very sought after by multinationals, employers, and business partners alike.

2.  A Positive Infuence on Your Personal Life

Yet, the benefits do not limit to the professional sphere. The positive impact of cultural intelligence indeed trickles down to your personal life, making it richer and more fulfilling!

When relocating to a new country and interacting with people from different backgrounds, it can be challenging to feel like you belong.

Cultural intelligence enables individuals to bridge that gap, navigate new environments and circles with more ease and connect more swiftly with those around them!

  • Expanded Worldview and Personal Growth:
    It expands your worldview and fosters personal growth, challenges biases, and enables a deeper appreciation for cultural diversity and a greater understanding of global, multifaceted, complex issues.
  • Increased Empathy and Cultural Sensitivity:
    Developing cultural intelligence promotes empathy and cultural sensitivity, allowing individuals to understand and appreciate different values, perspectives, and traditions.
  • Personal Enrichment:
    It enhances interpersonal skills, enabling individuals to navigate social situations, create meaningful relationships, and build trust across cultural boundaries.
  • Greater Cultural Awareness:
    Developing cultural intelligence deepens an individual's understanding of various cultures, their history, social norms, and customs, leading to increased cultural awareness and appreciation.

A Skill That Develops Overtime

The chosen way to nurture cultural intelligence is to stay curious, ask questions, seek engagement with others in an open-minded way, learn about the cultures that surround you as well as the experiences of those you meet on the way!



For the past 15 years, ASI Movers has been accompanying global individuals, families and companies in their relocation journey.

No matter the origin, the destination, the volume, or the project, we design the most adapted moving solution to fit your needs and requirements!

Our goal: to make your journey the smoothest possible, because there is so much more on your mind than moving your belongings!


Why Do We Go Abroad: The Unique Journey of Self-Initiated Expatriates

Living and working abroad can be a life-changing experience, filled with new adventures, cultural discoveries, as well as personal and professional growth.

Lately, a specific type of expatriation has been attracting more and more attention from scholars and recruiting organizations alike: self-initiated expatriation.

Are you one of those adventurous souls who have taken the leap to live and work abroad on your own initiative? If the answer is yes, then you are part of this growing community of people called self-initiated expatriates.

What prompts so many to take the leap and go abroad? What is so unique about this community? What are the pros and cons of this form of expatriation?

We answer it all in today’s article!

There is more to expatriation than a lifestyle choice

  1. For SIEs, personal and lifestyle considerations obviously come into play .
    Unlike AEs, SIEs are more active in their expatriation decision, and intrinsic motivators are thus more prevalent. Pursuing self-fulfillment through novel experiences breaking away from a routine, or challenging oneself, fulfilling their travel dreams, and changing one’s environment are thus often cited reasons for taking the leap.
    Other less-talked-about personal reasons also come into play, notably family ones and relocating to seek a better quality of life for close ones.
  2. However, career-related factors are often primary in SIEs decisions.
    Through expatriation, many seek to develop their careers, career capital, competitiveness, global skills, and network in a more welcoming and attractive job market, given their skills, profile, and aspirations. SIEs are very proactively shaping their careers, and organizations, as well as researchers around the world, have been noticing!

Why we leave, why we stay: Changing motivations

The reasons underlying one’s expatriation rarely remain the same throughout one’s international journey.

More often than not, the lifestyle and personal aspects give even more way to career-oriented motivations.

With experience and after discovering the opportunities living abroad offers, many cite the perspective of professional growth as the main reason why they stay abroad!

The pros and cons of self-initiated expatriation


At ASI Movers, we know that embarking on and navigating an international journey is both exciting and challenging, and that there is so much more on your mind than moving your belongings from one place to another.

That is why our goal is to make your relocation the smoothest possible! Our ethos: provide customized solutions that fit your relocation project. We strive to make moving as simple and stress-free for you as possible.

This article is based on the following research:

* Despotovic, W. V., Hutchings, K., & McPhail, R. (2022). Business, pleasure or both?: Motivations and changing motivation of self-initiated expatriates. Journal of Management & Organization, 18.