Living abroad for a while, even if it is only for a year, is a scary thought. Whether it is just a temporary move or an indefinite experience, it means leaving loved ones, meeting new people, living a different routine, and maybe a new job or working in activities you never imagined… All of this can be daunting for anyone.
But living abroad is a life changing experience in many different ways. I believe that everyone should be an “expatriate” at least once in their life. Here are some reasons why I advocate and encourage this experience:
Living in a different culture
Moving abroad allows you to observe a country in a totally different way, compared to the view you might have of that same country if you are a tourist.It gives you more time to discover and develop a connection with the destination where you live. As an expatriate, you will have more opportunities to learn the language, adopt the local way of life, and understand the customs of the country. Dealing with bureaucratic processes such as buying an internet package, opening a bank account, renting a property, and working in your chosen destination will also provide a different view of the country you are living in.
The world is not black and white – nor are these the behavioral rules. What works well in one culture could mean an opposite and undesirable message in another. Learning to read gray rules and using behavioral style to compliment those gray rules and expectations are skills expats have.
Moving abroad takes a lot of courage, especially if you are doing it alone. Nothing is familiar and you won’t have the support and help of friends and family. This may make you feel insecure and scared at first, but getting out of your comfort zone and discovering your new environment will teach you to embrace independence and figure things out on your own. Slowly but surely, the unknown will become less scary and you will become independent.
Be better prepared for opportunities
One advantage of living abroad is that it makes you more competitive when looking for a new job.Expatriate experience is very attractive to employers because it shows that a candidate can adapt to change, is not afraid of a challenge, and understands different cultures and business nuances. In addition, working and living abroad enhances your language skills and the way you interact with other people and increases your ability to process information differently. The ability to adapt, the relational mindset, the different forms of knowledge, the use of multiple lenses as tools to understand, recognize, and integrate new knowledge are all acquired skills.
When you move to a different country, no matter for how long, everything will be different and you will need to adapt quickly to a new environment, including new attitudes, behaviors, traffic rules, currency, and more. This not only makes you more adaptable, but learning about the local customs, healthcare system, and history of the country makes you more open-minded. You will learn to embrace change.
Whether you are traveling alone or with friends or family, a new environment means meeting new people, making new friends, and interacting with people who think and live differently than you were used to. It can be difficult to make new friends and fit in at first, but overcoming these challenges will develop your social skills, but not only that, it will also boost your confidence.
Being an expatriate offers the opportunity to build character, enhance your career, discover new opportunities, lifestyles, and people.
It pays to have an international experience once in a lifetime!