Drawing upon the experiences of a group of academics who were responsible for the teaching and coordination of a newly established offshore program, this study considers intercultural learning during transnational education (TNE) sojourns and demonstrates that the personal and pedagogical adaptation required of academics is significant. The study combines data from pre-, during- and post-sojourn interviews with detailed observations of offshore teaching. This ethnographic methodology provides a detailed account of the TNE experience that is rare in the literature. The study adds support to the contention that the acknowledgement of cultural distance, rather than the adoption of a universalist mindset, is a precondition for development of intercultural competence through transnational teaching. The reflections of the respondents indicate that when transnational educators are prepared to learn from the ambiguity encountered during offshore teaching, they have the capacity to experience personal growth and to add significantly to their university's human capital. The paper argues that this ‘preparedness’ to learn should not be left to chance lest it does not eventuate and that the responsibility for development is shared between transnational educators, who must be open to change and prepared to engage in self-reflection that can be confronting, and universities, who must formally recognise the need to provide time, resources and quality, ethical learning interventions in order to facilitate the development of intercultural competence in all staff, especially those who teach overseas.