Published on September 10, 2015

Let FOMO fuel your first international adventure

The internet is buzzing with articles about our generation’s FOMO (fear of missing out). As millennials, we are driven by this worry that our friends are up to something more interesting than we are. This fear is often associated with what we see other people post about their lives on social media. Now, this fear of missing out is a double-edged sword. While we shouldn't spend so much time worrying about how amazing our lives appear (or our friend's lives appear) on social media, it's great that our generation is motivated to spend time and money on experiences.


As budding adults, we're still in our experimental phase. Many of us are test-driving our careers, and without a spouse and kids. This is a special time in life that opens us up to amazing experiences, especially living in a foreign country. Next time you see a friend abroad post a cool photo capturing their experience, let that FOMO inspire you to take action. Living abroad is much more than a great opportunity for your Instagram feed (though it's great for that too). And the older you get without taking that opportunity, the more you will genuinely be missing out. Here are a just a few reasons why:


first international trip


- You think now is inconvenient, try every other time in your life.

Think about how hard you perceive living abroad is. Now multiply that times ten. That's how difficult it really will be if you don't take the chance to live abroad while you're relatively young and don't have mortgages and babies and other awesome, adult things.


- Not traveling is listed among biggest life regrets of the elderly.

Karl Pillemer, a gerontologist at Cornell University interviewed over a thousand elderly individuals about life, happiness and other topics for his books 30 Lessons for Living and 30 Lessons for Loving. While performing his research, Pillemer found regret from not having traveled was a reoccurring topic among elderly individuals. Meanwhile, Forbes made a list of the 25 biggest regrets in life that included both not taking enough trips and never learning a foreign language.


- Living abroad while you're young will prepare you for international experiences when you’re older.

Traveling or living in a foreign country when you're young makes you a citizen of the world, as cheesy as it sounds. Learning that kind of lesson while you're young will prepare your adult self for all kinds of international experiences, especially future travels.


first international trip


- Spending time abroad will be what you actually remember from your 20s.

Think about it. Which of these things are you most likely to look back on fondly when you're older: buying a new car; getting an expensive haircut; buying a new wardrobe OR hiking the Andes; learning Flamenco; speaking a foreign language? Don't waste your time and money on things that won't last. Invest in memories and mind-opening experiences instead. You won't regret it.


- You are more open-minded and impressionable when you’re young.

Going abroad while you're young is a unique experience because you're still forming your concept of the world and are much more receptive to new ideas and ways of life. Learning how to adjust to foreign environments and deal with being out of your comfort zone while you're young will make you a more comfortable, flexible, multicultural person for the rest of your life.


first international trip


- It’s easier to meet people abroad when you’re young.

One of the best things about living abroad is making friends from all over the world. However, you've got a better chance of having a big circle of friends if you're on the younger side. Most people who are temporarily living in a foreign country are young people. Naturally, that means it will be much easier to meet other people abroad as a young person. Also, people who are under 30 tend to have fewer responsibilities and more time to focus on friendships.


Thinking about combining your first international trip with an internship abroad? Click here for more information about our programs.


Sources: Huffington Post, Forbes


Photo 1. based on “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharial Nehru, by Kate Ter Haar, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. by The Intern Group

Photo 3. by The Intern Group

The author
Elizabeth Trovall
After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her third year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.

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