Unlike many other reported international social work (ISW) experiences, this article aims to analyse strengths and weaknesses in overseas placements and to present strategies to improve the quality of field education in international contexts. Drawing on primary data, field education documents and critical field experiences, it demonstrates how two students from an Australian social work programme reflectively attempted to deal with weaknesses, build on strengths, and improve their practice knowledge and skills in international placements. They undertook second placements in two non-government organisations focusing on community development activities in Mumbai, India. The analysis shows that focus on early and systematic preparation and reflections on typical experiences enhance learning. It discusses what students were able to do and learn in international placements. Such sharing offers useful insights to social work educators and practitioners, particularly those intending to offer field education abroad and to students wishing to undertake such placements in international contexts, and to those undertaking further research and developing related policy.