I was thinking about this yesterday. I’ve been living in Canada for three years now, and the time has flown. I feel like I’ve grown so much, so much has happened, and yet it still feels like only recently that I got here. Time is a strange old thing!
I was thinking what an amazing opportunity it is to live or study abroad. I think it’s something everyone should do at least once in their lifetime, if they can.
This is not a dig, by the way. If you’re a home person and you’re happy living a wonderful life where you are, with good friends and family around you, home comforts, and life is good – there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not saying one way of life is better than the other. My older brother and younger sister are more “homebodies” than I am, and they love it – they have gorgeous houses, wonderful relationships, and they see friends and family regularly. They take trips abroad, but they are quite happy staying in England (and in fact, I wonder if they think I’m a bit odd for living abroad!)
HOWEVER… if you’re one of those people who has thought about living abroad – even for a short period of time – but have a bundle of excuses, or are too scared/overwhelmed to try it, here are some of the benefits I’ve found from living abroad:
- It makes you appreciate things about your own country.
Things that you can never do while you’re living there. I will never moan about the NHS, UK banks, shopping, or our cell/mobile phone deals. Ever. I also appreciate English humour, culture and history now. We’re a funny (albeit sarcastic) people! 🙂
- It can make you a better eater.
After being in Russia for a while, I got disappointed if something wasn’t covered in dill. And scraping the mould off bread if it gets to that point, and covering it with Nutella (the bread, not the mould) has become a bit of an adventurous treat for me, rather than something gross… waste not want not! No – seriously – the Italian/Mexican/ whatever that you eat at home is probably nothing like the authentic version. And you have to spend some time in the country to test this out.
- It can be a bit scary…
…but that’s a good thing! Get out your comfort zone. I know it’s warm in there 🙂 But you’re not growing very much (as a person) in there.
- Oh, the stories you’ll tell!
No, I’m being serious. What’s more interesting – the night you spent in the pub, or the time you took a night train to Slovakia? Hanging with the friends you’ve known since high school, or being up close and personal with an ostrich in the wild in South Africa?
- You’ll find out more about yourself as a person.
I know that I get grumpy if I don’t eat healthily and frequently, I like having my hair straighteners with me (I’m embarrassed to admit that… it just makes me happy to have straight hair, okay?!), I can get myself out of more situations than I think I can, and I need time alone. What would you learn about yourself? You might find a “new you” in there! 🙂
- You may pick up – or even learn to a good level – a new language (or two).
Even just getting a response to your “thank you” in a different language will make you feel happy (and maybe a bit smug!). I’ve studied four other languages (two to degree level) and I can tell you hand on heart, no word of a lie, that the best/easiest way to actually learn a language is to go and spend some time in that country. I’ve tried many other ways – and nothing beats it. You’re surrounded by it, you’re breathing it, you’re speaking it… and it does take time, but it filters through without you even realizing it.
- Everything will still be here when you come back.
Yes, you’ll miss friends – and you might miss a few birthday parties or special occasions. And people might even have babies while you’re away (usually the ladies). But when you come back, you’ll be surprised at how little has actually changed. You can pretty much just slot right back in (if you want to).
- It makes you realize how small the world is.
You can meet someone in Australia that you completely click with – you have the same sense of humour and you feel like you’ve known them for years, when you just met yesterday. You have a soul mate living across the other side of the world from you, and you never even knew she existed! How weird is that?! She had a totally different upbringing and background from you, and yet you have the same beliefs and views on pretty much everything. Life is pretty amazing like that!
- It can make you realize how diverse the world is.
There are mega cities, ancient monuments, lush forests, sparkling lakes, parched deserts, serene countryside, millions of species, thousands of accents and dialogues and languages – all on our one earth. So why not explore a little bit of it?
- You’ll likely make a bunch of new friends from around the world.
A few years ago, I took part in Vaughan Town – where a group of English and Spanish speakers come together in a lovely hotel in the Spanish countryside to talk, eat and drink together all in English – the aim being that the Spaniards (usually business people) can improve their English, get used to different accents, and practise speaking English without fear or embarrassment. There were people there from pretty much every English-speaking country in the world. That was eight years ago, but I’m still in contact with a lot of them, and I know whenever I’m in Australia, Singapore, Scotland, Spain, etc., I have a place to stay, and a friendly bod to catch up with. Awesome!
Would you add anything to this?
Oh and a quick note – you don’t have to sell everything and move abroad for good, to appreciate a different country. Why not save up some cash and go somewhere for a month? Or three? Whatever floats your boat!
Bon voyage! 😉
And if you have any questions about moving or living abroad, please feel free to shoot me a message – I’d be happy to help (or provide some encouragement!)