Somewhat dramatic here – but what is the most life changing thing you’ve ever done? For me, it was moving overseas and I’ll forever be grateful I made that decision. Everything that has followed has been a result of that one choice.
Anyone who has lived abroad will agree the experience is life changing. This is true whether you spend just one year or a lifetime overseas. Traveling abroad and then going home is a really valuable experience, but when you pull up stakes from all your familiar surroundings and create a life all your own in a different country is a brave and thrilling experience. I asked some friends to tell me what they considered most significant about this experience and here are some of the things they told me:
1. Valuable Friendships – The people you meet when you live abroad are both vastly different from you in many ways and at the same time, you all are people who have the gumption to move abroad as well as a love of traveling. The friends you meet will be from all over the world, giving you a diverse group of people that will likely stay in your life for many years to come. The friends I met in my first year abroad are all people I’m still in contact with 20 years later.
2. Career Boost – OK, so while most of the benefits of living abroad are about personal changes and growth, it also needs to be stated that no matter what your long-term career is, that job you took overseas will always be a standout on your resume. Even if the job you do overseas isn’t related to what you do the rest of your life, it’ll always catch a recruiter’s eye.
3. You get challenged 24/7 – Every mundane thing you do is suddenly a great experience. You use language to ask prices or figure out a sign on the subway. You have time to explore every tourist site in a city – something you would never be able to do on a short trip. You’ll eat things you never would have considered, and then find you love them. Spices, teas, smells, recycling patterns, even crossing the street is different. It’s all so much to take in, you’ll have no idea how to answer the question “What’s it like?” that your friends back home will inevitably ask. Your mind will forever be curious after this experience.
4. Endless possibilities – just like the ongoing challenges, you have the opportunity to do anything and you’ll never feel more independent than you do living thousands of miles away from everyone you know. You can take a trip to a nearby town and explore, you can stay home and binge watch a show you barely understand, or you can study the local language. Speaking of – language learning will bend your mind and give insight into a culture that you never thought possible. On top of that, you also gaining fluency in a language is a very valuable skill (back to that career boost).
5. New Perspective – Your worldview will expand and if you move back home, you’ll have a broader vision of the world. It’s far too easy for people to go through life and only think about news, politics, and traditions in one corner of the world, and the experience of seeing news and events from a different country will forever change that.