Valerie Dabady found a nonprofit job in Abidjan, in the Ivory Coast, through an ad in the Economist, because she wanted to “try the whole expat thing.” Michael Chang found an in-house job in Nagano, Japan, through an ad in the Los Angeles Daily Journal because he wanted to “do something that didn’t come naturally.” Tamara Barnes ended up in her firm’s Kazakstan branch because she had studied Russian in seventh grade. Oleg Berger ended up in his firm’s Moscow branch because he was born there; he calls himself a repat.

By drift or by design, many hundreds of associates and ex-associates find themselves in the darndest spots overseas, bound by nothing except the generic experience of culture shock.

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