Whether you have the travel bug, need for adventure, or want a cheaper cost of living, there are many reasons to live abroad. Sadly, many don’t take the leap afraid of the technicalities of moving to a new country. But, if you approach the move with an open mind, you’re in for a life of adventures and memories.
As a wife of an MBA student, we took the leap and I am here to tell you that living abroad is one of the most amazing/rewarding things I have ever decided to do. I’ve gathered my top 10 reasons and even if it is just for a few months, take the leap!
There is no better way to open your eyes to how the world works, than to live in another culture. You will quickly learn that it is OK to be different and that EVERYWHERE functions differently.
When we first moved to Spain, I was surprised at the pace of life. Everything moved a bit slower and the locals knew how to enjoy their lives. As an American, I have been hustling since I can remember and I marveled at the those who could sit at lunch for two hours sipping wine with a colleague.
I shop for fruits and veggies from a local farmer, purchase my meat from the butcher, and fresh bread from the Panaderia. No target or bulk food stores in sight and the entire community spends Saturday out and about walking from this shop to that.
Europeans value experience and therefore everything is done in detail. From gorgeous parks, to monuments, to colorfully painting buildings, it creates a full experience.
Holly cow this should probably be number one. When you are placed in a new, uncomfortable environment, it forces you to adapt to your surroundings. You will face challenges on a daily basis in a new city, and most likely in a new language. I’ve had my share of tearful moments, but deep down that strength grows with every challenge.
Before moving I thought I was an independent person, but I quickly learned that I depended on the habits and ease of my familiar surroundings. As scary as it is to deal with government authorities, landlords, or even the doorman you learn to “just do it”. Nike style. It has to be done, and no one can do it for you, so you conquer little fears everyday!
World Wide Community
You are now suddenly open to meeting so many people with like interests from all over the world. Whether that’s in a yoga class, a new job, or shopping at the market your community is far wider spread than before.
Friends will become family and community will be more important than things. Life long bonds will be formed as you need these people to navigate living abroad.
I’ve developed close friends while living in Spain and only one of them is a fellow American! My husband, (the student), has an even bigger network attending class with people from over 60 different countries.
Religion, political, and cultural discussions open your eyes to other issues in the world, and your perspective will shift for the better.
If your in business moving/working abroad will look killer on a CV and open up international opportunities. I am not business woman but networking is just as important in my work and meeting people from all over the world could open all kinds of doors.
Even if you don’t plan to work abroad, the fact you speak a second language or have experience in a particular city could give you the upper hand in an interview.
Expand Your Vocabulary
Learn a second language! Most of the world studies at least 3 languages while in school and as an American, I feel silly only speaking english.
Yes, learning a new language is SO challenging but totally rewarding when you can carry on a conversation with the local barista. It’s essential if you plan to stay long term in your new city. Most government processes are in the local language and often times they don’t speak english.
I’ve gained a larger respect for those who are bi-lingual and I’ve learned to humble myself while stumbling through Spanish at the store. It will get easier day by day and a little by little.
Trains, buses, and cheaper flights make seeing new destinations easy and more frequent. Imagine yourself eating pasta in Italy and the next weekend touring sights in France. Overnight trains or even a rental car take you from country to country in just a few hours.
This has to be one of my favorite reasons to live abroad. I’ve always loved travel and we have seen and experienced so many new places all thanks to living in Europe.
Your Taste Will Change
Discovering new foods, fashion, and lifestyle differences will change you. I can only speak for Spain in this respect but the food is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Produce is only sold during its fresh season, bread is baked daily, and food goes bad quickly because it isn’t shot full of chemicals. Restaurants take pride in their food and markets are the hub of the city.
Fashion is different and what you know to be in style at home will not be the case in your new city. It’s a chance to re-define yourself. A clean slate you could say. Your lifestyle will shift in what you find important daily from your morning routine, hair-do, and commute to work, it will all begin to feel like normal.
I think the reasons listed above all apply here but it’s really is a chance to make and entire new life. You have a unique opportunity to start over and decide how you want to live abroad. New job, new life, new you. Essentially your walking into a new environment without expectations from any one else so make some big life changes. Dye your hair purple or start working for yourself. Options are endless and that’s what is so exciting about making a huge move abroad.
Learn to be Alone
This one sounds a bit negative but this is one of the MOST valuable lessons to learn in life. The first while will feel isolating and lonely but you learn to rely on what you know and you feel like a super hero accomplishing anything. Wandering the streets, museum hopping, or showing up to a cultural event alone will benefit your self development. You will be your own biggest cheerleader and traveling solo may become your preferred way of exploring.
New Experiences Daily
I wish I had kept a daily journal during the first few weeks living abroad. Each day presented itself with new experiences.
Driving around the city on a Moto instead of a car, shopping for groceries in four different local shops, and stumbling upon Churches hundreds of years old. These things DON’T happen in the United States and every day I found myself stopping and marveling at the city before me.
History around every corner and a chance to learn and be inspired presents itself often. As a creative person, moving abroad has pushed my limits and opened me up for so many new things.
It isn’t always a walk in the park. There have been really hard times. But I would say that the really great times out weigh the bad.
So what are you waiting for? Come join me abroad!