Living anywhere has its pros and cons. For example, the thought of living at home with your parents will immediately conjure up longer list of cons than pros. Living with roommates could bring up an equal number of pros and cons. Even living in your home country has its pros and cons. But have you ever considered living in another country? It’s an enriching experience and the pros far outweigh the cons. Here are five reasons why living abroad is really worth it.
1. You become resilient and flexible. Living abroad teaches you how to adjust to another culture, think quickly on your feet and be flexible enough to make changes to plans on short notice, if necessary. This type of resilience and flexibility is what makes people successful.
2. You learn to think critically. Depending on what decade you were born in, you were probably raised to be very patriotic and to believe that the U.S. is the center of the universe. Living outside of the U.S. will forces you to engage with other people who have different world views and to question your own. Having the ability to evaluate and analyze your own logic is the first step in becoming a good critical thinker.
3. You get the opportunity to learn another language. This is by far the best pro ever. Imagine living in another country and getting to understand the culture in a way that you can’t with a textbook! That alone will improve your intercultural communication skills. Coupled with the fact that you have the perfect immersion situation for language mastery, you really come out ahead of your peers.
4. You learn to be more in touch with yourself. It’s easy to operate on autopilot in familiar settings when it comes to the daily routine of being human. Once you’re outside of your comfort zone, you start to become creative about satisfying your wants and needs. You start realizing what you can truly do without, what you truly can’t do without and realize that you underestimated your ability to survive without Doritos. In other words, you get to know YOU.
5. You understand what independence is all about. If nothing proves how independent you are like living in another country, far away from family and friends AND living to tell about it, then I don’t know what proves it. Learning how to navigate the everyday pitfalls of being human by yourself in a foreign country, is a lot like wandering around in a dark obstacle course. Blindfolded. Full of ditches. Deep ditches. And thorny rose bushes. And traps. There’s something especially freeing and satisfying about knowing that you survived all of that on your own and on your terms.
Living abroad can be a cultivating and enlightening experience. It can allow you to see yourself in a way that you’ve never been able to see yourself. It can also allow you grow into a version of yourself you never thought was possible. There are 195 places where you can begin this adventure: choose one.