I have been living abroad for a while now and I must confess that it has been a life changing experience so far. I’ve had an alternation of up and down moments but all in all I cannot say that I regret my decision. Although the common idea that nowadays it is getting very common for people to go from one country to another looking for luck and glory I still believe that in fact very few are those who actually decide to leave their home country to pursue their own passion or purpose.
We can hear plenty of conversations about some “dream land” where people can really realize their dreams and experience true happiness, but how many people do really do what they talk about? How many have the courage to leave their comfortable home to go and experience the unknown? Not many, I bet.
Why did I leave my very comfortable and safe home so? Well, I am a dreamer and tend to believe that we should give ourselves the freedom to pursue our deepest desires in face of fear of failure and disillusion. Moreover, I have decided not see the act of leaving my country as an escape or as the sad realization that there is always a price to pay. But , rather, to see it as a journey, a journey that is helping me to grow and to become the kind of person I truly want to be. Given this perspective, my journey becomes much more pleasurable. It becomes the land of new possibilities rather than of sacrifices and hard work.
Leaving things and people behind just for the sake of experiencing a new place is not something that everyone is looking forward to. Nonetheless, I would like to encourage those of you who are thinking about this possibility. Experiencing a new reality is something which totally affects the way you see your life, the way you think about people and reality. I definitely think that few things can actually have such a deep impact on your life as living in a foreign country. Here are some of the most valuable reasons why you can really get empowered by living abroad (even for a small period of time):
- Getting to know a different culture. When you live in your own country you are just like most of the people you live with, you share with them common beliefs, common experiences, common desires and expectations. This gives you a deep sense of belonging to the community you live in. As you move to a different place this is no longer true: you are most likely to interact with a variety of people who have a set of ideas and values which might be completely different to your own. As you realize this concept you might get shocked and scared. You suddenly realize that the way you have been living for such a long time is not the way all the people live. You come to the realization that what is important for you might not be that important for another person. And then it’s up to your.. either you decide to embrace the new culture and lifestyle or you resist change and keep living according to your “standards”.
- Experiencing and learning a new language. If you decide to try out your chances in a country where they do not speak your mother tongue then learning the local language might be a very good starting point in order to successfully integrate with the people you are going to live with. In most of the countries you might be able to live a pretty decent life just by knowing some English, but without learning the local language you will never feel part of the community. Nonetheless, learning a new language might be a very challenging experience which might require you to learn a new set of symbols and how to pronounce some new sound. What is most interesting however is that you will soon realize that things get said in a different way in every language. You might even find out that there are some words that cannot be translated from your native language to the new one or vice versa. Some concept you are so used to might not exist in the new contest you are living; or you might have to learn some new ones.
- Learning to get to know people and make new friends. In your home place you usually have well defined set of core friends or acquaintances you usually hang out with. As you move to a new place you will rapidly realise that you are alone and that you are the only one who can actually do something in order to change the situation. If in your home you felt comfortable and might get to know new people just by attending social events you were invited to; this will not result true as you are in a different country. In order to meet people and hang out you will have to proactively act and organize events, meeting and other social events. So far, I have realized that one of the most effective way to do so is to join as soon as possible some social group or organization as a way to get to know people and progressively turn boring evenings spent alone at your place into exciting nights with new local friends.
- Managing to keep up old relationships. If live one thousand kilometres away from your friends and family it gets of course much more complicated to keep up with them. Nonetheless I have realized that you will not lose those people which are really essential to you. They will most likely be an important part of your life even if you cannot meet up or talk with them so often. On the other hand, many of your social connections will soon start to weaken and will eventually disappear. Sadly you will not be able to avoid it, but as this happen you will realize that after all they were not as important as you thought. Being far away taught me that the distance enables you to understand who are those few people which are really important to you and to really value the time you spend with them.
- Mastering flexibility and the ability to adapt to different situations. All in all what you really learn is to develop a very flexible mindset and to rapidly adapt to different situations. The new context will put you under pressure, will make you feel uncomfortable and unsure. The only possible solution in order to turn all of this into a positive and empowering experience is to embrace change, to go with the flow and accept everything as it comes to you. The more you develop a flexible attitude toward reality, the more you will be able to turn every situation into a valuable experience both for you and for the people you live with. Make change part of yourself and you will no longer have to constantly worry about what might happen tomorrow.
What do you think about this post? Have you ever tried to live abroad for a while? How did it work out? Please let me know in the comments below!
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