Background: Differences in professional practice might hinder initiation of student participation during international placements, and thereby limit workplace learning. This study explores how healthcare students overcome differences in professional practice during initiation of international placements. Methods: Twelve first-year physiotherapy students recorded individual audio diaries during the first month of international clinical placement. Recordings were transcribed, anonymized, and analyzed following a template analysis approach. Team discussions focused on thematic interpretation of results. Results: Students described tackling differences in professional practice via ongoing negotiations of practice between them, local professionals, and peers. Three themes were identified as the focus of students’ orientation and adjustment efforts: professional practice, educational context, and individual approaches to learning. Healthcare students’ initiation during international placements involved a cyclical process of orientation and adjustment, supported by active participation, professional dialogue, and self-regulated learning strategies. Conclusions: Initiation of student participation during international placements can be supported by establishing a continuous dialogue between student and healthcare professionals. This dialogue helps align mutual expectations regarding scope of practice, and increase understanding of professional and educational practices. Better understanding, in turn, creates trust and favors meaningful students’ contribution to practice and patient care.