Why You Should Live Abroad

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”.

Those of you who know me personally won’t be surprised by this week’s #marysmusings piece highlighting why everyone should live abroad at least once!

Of course we don’t all have the luxury of making such decisions or taking amazing work or life opportunities in Hong Kong, Australia or New York (omg, please pick me), but for anyone who has the desire to take that secondment, job opportunity, or complete life change for whatever reason, I say DO IT. There are always a million reasons not to, but there’s a million-and-one why you should grab hold (with both hands) of any chance to do so.

For me, having done it, it’s really about perspective and values. By moving abroad, you will grow as a person in ways you never thought possible, just through exposure to other cultures and viewpoints. You’ll let go of some of those stubborn attitudes or opinions, often instilled from childhood, and develop a new perspective that is uniquely your own, not one that you inherited by being born in a certain country.

You’ll be challenged and forced, sometimes fairly dramatically, outside of your comfort zone. You’ll develop emotional survival skills you thought you didn’t have, and understand how to deal with being alone. Sometimes it will be hard, sometimes scary, and often incredibly lonely. But life will also be new, exciting and challenging. With that challenge will come reward, and you’ll find you are better at embracing change and uncertainty. In fact, without even realizing it, you’ll thrive under pressure and be more resilient to situations that would have previously overwhelmed you. You’ll be more adaptable, a better negotiator and a master problem solver. You’ll suddenly be able to read people, understand the world better, and have improved emotional intelligence. You’ll realize quickly what true friendship means and will see old friendships in a different light. You’ll be better at forming new friendships that matter, helped by a gradual increase in self-confidence and ability to handle the world around you minus that costa coffee moan about how hard everything feels.

Do you ever notice how memorable new experiences are in your mind? It’s almost like that night on your trip to Spain in the Summer of 2012 dominates your long term memory, while you can’t even remember what you had for dinner yesterday? Take yourself back to the last time you even arrived in a foreign country on a holiday. The sounds, smells, colours and tastes all compete for your attention and you so much more aware of what is happening all around you. The experience becomes physical, visceral, vital and captivating.

When living in other countries, “normal” becomes redefined, and you’ll more informed, educated and tolerate of others. You’ll be more present in your own life, having experienced a profound level of personal growth that would be next to impossible to experience in your home country.

So I say again, do it. “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”.

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