Living abroad is a unique experience that accelerates your personal growth and changes you in more ways than you can imagine. Here are our top 10 reasons why you’ll never be the same again after living abroad.
10 life-changing and long-term benefits of living abroad
1. You’ll make fewer cultural assumptions
Once you’ve seen your cultural preconceptions proved wrong, you’ll be careful not to be so quick to assume in the future. While abroad you realize that every culture has many different subcultures within it, so you see first-hand how cultural characteristics are much more nuanced than you previously understood.
2. You’ll be more patient with foreigners in your home country
Once you’ve been in the position of the clueless foreigner with a thick accent, you’ll be infinitely more patient when dealing with foreigners once you return back home. Putting yourself in the shoes of the outsider is an unforgettable experience that will make you more able to relate to newbies to your culture, and be more compassionate, understanding and considerate.
3. The world will seem so much bigger
It’s one thing to look at the world map and pictures from around the world, and another thing completely to be in a foreign country, roaming the different streets, getting lost and traveling from city to city… You realize that there is so much to see all over the world and it’s impossible to experience it all. It can be an incredibly overwhelming realization, but it’s also a great source of motivation to encourage you to go out and see as much as you can.
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” –Gustave Flaubert”
4. You’ll realize that there’s more than one right way to do things
As you learn about cultural differences and adjust to them, you begin to see how a foreign culture operates and how it’s successful in that specific cultural context. Every culture has its own approach to work, relationships and family, and all of the different approaches can be right.
5. You’ll see how respect, like many things, is cultural
Respect can be shown in many different ways, which inevitably leads to misunderstanding. What you may find disrespectful because of cultural norms in your home country may just be the norm in another country. Learning not to take these cultural differences personally is important. As is learning how to adapt and show your respect in new and different ways.
6. You’ll be more understanding of cultural differences and accents in the future
Cultural differences can cause miscommunication and misunderstandings that get in the way of professional and personal relationships. Learning how to minimize the misunderstandings by improving your communication skills and multicultural competence is a great skill for life and work settings. Going abroad forces you to bridge cultural gaps and learn how to work with people from different cultural backgrounds, making you more able to handle multicultural situations in the future.
7. You’ll be more in tune with international news
When you read an international headline without having been abroad, it can be hard to understand the severity of the situation or really care much if it doesn’t affect you or anyone you know. Once you travel abroad and meet people from different places around the globe, world headlines become a lot more tangible and you find yourself more empathetic.
8. You’ll have a special connection to a foreign country and its people
Once you have lived in a foreign country, you have a special relationship to its culture and people. You’ve walked the city’s streets, eaten its food, listened to its music – that place in the world and your experience there becomes a part of who you are.
9. You’ll want to keep traveling
World travel is an addictive habit. Once you’ve left your home country and had a positive experience elsewhere, you want to recreate that rush, excitement and wonder elsewhere. You realize how much you really learn, change and grow with an international experience. You’ll want to continue expanding your horizons..
10. You’ll notice foreign languages more when you are back home
Once you have an immersive foreign language experience, you become much more adept at picking up the specific sounds and words of a different language. Suddenly, when you’re back home or traveling in another country, you’ll hear that language more than ever, when maybe beforehand it would have blended into the soundscape.
To change your life and experience all of these benefits of living abroad, apply today for an international internship.
Photo 1. based on The Lost Traveler, by martinak15, CC-by-2.0