We are not trees. We do not have physical roots, and this means that we are not tied to live in one place our entire lives. Making a big life change is scary. But do you know what is scarier? REGRET.
Sure, there will always be things that draw us back ‘home’, such as family and friends, or a sense of belonging. But that’s not to say you cannot experience other countries and cultures – as living abroad gives you a sense of a place and its people on a far deeper level than being a tourist.
Here are our top reasons for living abroad at least once in your life:
· It helps you to become more independent. There’s nothing like navigating a new country, with a strange language on your own to teach you to rely on yourself rather than others. You’ll grow up very quickly!
· You’ll become a pro at paperwork! Dealing with visas, work permits and other red tape can be exasperating at times, and can tempt you to give up on your dream. But stick by it and power through and it will be worth the stress, and in the process you will learn new skills as well as patience.
· You’ll make new international friends. These friends could be locals or other expats. While it’s easier to slip into the expat bubble with others who speak your language, do try to make some local friends too, so you get a real perspective of local life. This might be harder due to language barriers, but you will gain so much from it. Locals enjoy meeting foreigners too, and hearing about your life back home.
· It changes your view of the world from a cultural perspective. It makes you realise that things may work a bit differently to what you’re used to back home, and challenges your outlook and views on the world around you. It makes you see that the world is a lot bigger than your home country and you may adapt your way of thinking with regards to culture, religion, political views and customs – making up your own mind about such things, rather than just accepting what you have been brought up to believe.
· It teaches you that life is about experiences and moments – rather than material things. You will become rich with experiences, if not money. In saying that, working abroad and earning a different currency could also be financially rewarding – but this shouldn’t be your only driving factor when deciding to live abroad. It’s these magic moments that you will reflect back on later in life – you won’t remember the headache trying to get visa, but you will remember the people you met, the places you saw and the things you experienced.
· It’s great for your CV! Having lived abroad shows a prospective employer that you are adaptable, have an open mind and are up to challenges.
· It makes you more open to opportunities. If you’ve never lived abroad, you may not consider positions abroad when your career presents them to you. But once that door has been opened, you know you are capable of doing it, and it opens up your options for jobs.
· You’ll meet people from different backgrounds – people you would never normally have met if you had stayed in your bubble back home. You’ll not only expand your circle of friends, but also your professional network – and you never know where that will lead you.
Living abroad is different to just travelling for a year. It usually involves studying, working or both. It means you have to tackle the mundane ‘everyday’ tasks of living somewhere, such as paying bills, dealing with government departments, grocery shopping and having an address – not just a hotel or Airbnb for a while.
But be warned!
This quote sums it up perfectly:
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” Miriam Adeney.