Some of us are serial expats, while others have had just a single six-month venture in a land far away. One thing everyone that’s lived abroad at least once will tell you, though, is that it was 100% worth it.
Even if they hated it and couldn’t wait to come back home.
For every life-changing moment, and every struggle, these 9 things are true for every experience beyond the borders of where you call home – and are reason enough why everyone should live abroad at least once in their life…
To Learn a New Language
We don’t have to tell you that learning a new language is an incredibly wise career move. It also connects you to the social and cultural pulse of your new home and is a very rewarding accomplishment. There are some exceptional apps and programs out there to help you learn a new language, but nothing mirrors the benefit of being forced to interact with locals on street-level.
For the Food
You’ll be shocked at the disparity between “authentic” Italian or French cuisine in your hometown and the culinary wonders you’ll actually experience living in Italy or France. And that’s just playing it safe – get a taste of Thailand, Turkey, or Japan, for example, for a real treat.
To Actually See and Feel All the Amazing Things You Keep Reading About on Lists (Like This One)
You know what’s better than tagging your BFF on a list of amazing travel experiences? Actually following up on your “omg let’s do this!” comment. We’ve given you a ton of great recommendations – like Europe’s 8 best beaches – but you’ll never understand the beauty of that pearly white sand in Greece or the magic of a cafe con leche on a Spanish morning until you’re actually there.
To Be Uncomfortable
If you think you have a good idea of your capabilities and true personality, put that image to the test by living in a place with a foreign alphabet, alternative religion, or restaurants that have never heard of the term vegan. As cliche as it sounds, being uncomfortable is the best way to learn about your real self.
To Find Out Who’s Important in Your Life
You’ve probably already noticed your social circle shrinking as you transition into adult life – and if there’s one thing that’s true about friends, it’s that quality > quantity. You’ll quickly learn who’s worth keeping in your life when you evaluate the frequency and depth of conversation you’re able to maintain with your crew back home.
To Abolish Stereotypes
Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us have pre-conceived notions about countries or a group of people that are largely based on pretty faulty samples of fact or evidence. Immersing yourself in a foreign country is the only way to get a realistic impression of their culture – and it’s often significantly different than you imagined previously. One experience like this is enough to engrain a mature outlook towards other cultures and people for a lifetime.
To Be Lonely
Eventually you’ll meet a bunch of amazing locals who you’ll spend every waking hour with and will become life-long friends with and live happily ever after with… but until then, embrace all that’s great about being on your own and free of the trivial distractions that plague life in familiar surroundings. You’ll learn how to brush off FOMO, how to prioritize, and maybe even how to cook for yourself. Most importantly, you’ll always be switched on, alert, and receptive to everything around you as you navigate the unknown on your own.
For the Parties
Seeing how different cultures party is pretty awesome, especially when you’re in a place where there’s more to having a good time than downing alcohol in a dark room. You’ll quickly learn that good things do indeed happen after 2am.
To Remember Why You Love Home
If the reason for your departure was the result of disenchantment for where you grew up, nothing will restore your appreciation for home like being away from it for an extended period. For all the pleasures of life abroad, you’ll also become quickly acquainted with the inefficiencies, problems, and frustrations every human being on earth inevitably deals with once the vacation feeling fades and you start to settle into a new life. Learning that the grass is equally green and brown on both sides is an invaluable life lesson.