The benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone while living abroad

Leaving the comforts of home behind and focusing on new professional challenges in a foreign country is an incredible opportunity for personal growth. Living abroad is an effective way to develop life skills that will make you a more open, adventurous and patient person. In a foreign setting, navigating a new city and culture, you learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. You also come to realize that often it’s best not to try to control a situation, you just have to accept what’s happening and move forward with as positive an attitude as possible.


Step out of your comfort zone while living abroad. Here are the benefits:


1) You’ll become bolder in the office

Once you become less inhibited by the world around you, you’ll naturally start saying “yes” more often in professional environments. The adventurous side you’ve cultivated while living in a foreign country will make you a professional who’s willing to take risks and is open to new ideas.


2) You’ll master ‘fake it till you make it’

When you’re abroad and trying your best to calmly and effectively speak a foreign language, it’s necessary to try and fight your natural inhibitions. Interacting with an unknown culture is scary – especially in a foreign language. In all likelihood, you’ll never quite conquer this fear, however, you will get used to it and develop the ability to appear cool and collected even when you’re totally not. This mastery of ‘fake it till you make it’ can be useful in professional and personal social situations, like presentations, dates, meetings and interviews.


3) You’ll learn to make the most of what you have

You can’t bring “home” with you when you intern abroad, meaning you’re going to leave behind the people, places and things that make you feel safe. Having to leave all the comforts of home behind make the experience even scarier, but that’s actually a good thing. Dealing with not having your normal life at your fingertips is a great way to learn how to focus on making the best out of what you have, making you a more positive, independent and self-sufficient person.


4) You’ll be more confident and open to new experiences

An experience, like living abroad, that forces you to leave your comfort zone on a daily basis makes the fear of being in a new place, being different and not understanding the world around you completely normal. Adjusting to this feeling will make you more comfortable with unknown experiences. Surviving situations on a regular basis that make you uncomfortable will make you confident in your ability to navigate the unknown, and handle yourself in unpredictable situations.


step out of your comfort zone


5) You’ll boost your creativity

An openness to new cultural experiences paves the way to a richer creative and innovative mind. In fact, research in 2012 concluded that students who studied abroad were actually more creative because of the multicultural experience. Being able to think outside the box, think creatively, by having lived and worked in a different cultural context, will make you a more attractive professional when looking for a job.


6) You’ll be more adaptable

When you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone, you’re deciding to sacrifice a little comfort in order to grow, learn something new or do something different. The ability to adjust to new environments, people and things is kind of like a muscle. With more practice and more experience outside your comfort zone, you grow to be even more adaptable and capable of navigating uncharted territory.


7) Your overall confidence will soar

Having left the cultural surroundings that made you feel safe and in control and learning how to deal with new people and problems will make you more confident in life. It’s not easy to make a foreign place your home, learning how to do so will make you realize how much you really are capable of as long as you’re willing to feel a little discomfort along the way.



Sources: Huffpo

Photo 1. based on 花瓶頂, by Kevin Law, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on brushes, by Dean Hochman, CC-by-2.0


The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth 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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