THIS. IS. YOUR. TIME. Ever dreamed of starting completely new, somewhere where no one knows you? Well, deciding to live abroad will offer you just that. Yes, it sounds a bit extreme, but it is a great opportunity to reinvent yourself.
When I decided to leave my home to live abroad, I remember people would say to me things like:
- Why do you need to live abroad to start over?
- Why can’t you make new friends here?
- Do you really think things will be different over there?
- What are you trying to escape?
And I understand their skepticism, but to be honest, I didn’t know the answers to those questions back then. And it made me doubt. But luckily, I still went through with my decision to live abroad, and looking back, I now know how I would respond: “Sometimes, to make a small change you need to make a drastic move”.
You need to put yourself in a situation where you will have no choice but to adapt. It’s like trying to stop snacking but continuously buying bags of chips… you can bet on your willpower to try and make a change but you have way better chances if those chips are out of reach!
To be honest, if you are making plans to live abroad, doubts and worries from your loved ones are to be expected. I think the people that love you the most are the ones that will have a harder time seeing you change. To me, it was just liberating to be able to decide what version of myself I wanted to evolve to without constantly being reminded of who people were seeing me as, and I don’t think I would be the same person today if I stayed in my home country.
Insert cheesy quote about stepping out of your comfort zone here
Well, that’s a given… spoiler alert, once you move away from home, you will be forced to get out of your comfort zone. Whether you are moving to a different country, a different state, or even a city, chances are a lot of things will look a lot different, all at once. You will be away from your home and from the people that you love, which is usually what brings us the most comfort.
On top of that, chances are that you will have a new job, or if the job is familiar, your coworkers, team, or office will be new to you. You might need to learn a new language, culture and social cues among many other things. The best part of stepping out of your comfort zone is that, even though those changes might be hard at the beginning, they will come rather naturally. You will be amazed at how quickly you will adjust. Oftentimes, we forget about how resourceful we can be. So don’t worry, you will adjust, it is just human nature.
The best feeling in the world is to look back after a couple of years and reflect on how far you’ve come. Things that may have scared you to death in the beginning, will now become easy. Sometimes we just need to prove to ourselves that we can do something to fully believe it! Getting out of your comfort zone is the best way to build confidence and, guess what? The more confidence you gain, the easier it will get to expand your comfort zone even further. Possibilities become endless!
Meet people from different horizons
Surely, once you get to your new home, you will have to create a brand new circle of friends. That sounds challenging but don’t worry, I’ve got tips for you here that will save you a ton of time and energy.
Whether it is people from work or a networking event, people who were born and bred locally or internationals, chances are that you will meet people from very diverse backgrounds. This will allow you to learn to open yourself up to new personalities and ways of thinking. Realizing that the way you think, see and do things may not be the same as everyone else’s is going to be the most liberating feeling. It was for me, and to this day, I still consider this the greatest impact that deciding to live abroad had on my personal growth.
A new way to broaden your points of views
Another great perk of living abroad is that you will learn to think differently and maybe change some of your opinions. As mentioned above, this will come from the fact that you are now surrounded by people that have different ideas and ways of living.
But also, in the beginning, you may feel a bit out of touch from being in a situation where you don’t always feel understood. As hard as it sounds, this is, in my opinion, a great trigger to developing a higher level of empathy. I am convinced that empathy is the stepping stone to open-mindedness. Being open-minded has been proven to inspire a more optimistic view of the future, which will lead to greater happiness.
A practical approach to learning a new language
If you are up for an added challenge, pick a place where they speak a different language. I chose to live abroad in America because I also wanted to become fluent in English. English is so widely used, that I had my head set on learning it in order to broaden my array of opportunities.
One thing that we tend to forget, is that it is not only about the language itself. Not knowing how to communicate when you get to a new country is an extremely humbling experience. At first, you will not know all the words, idioms or jokes. You will learn to accept that it is ok not to understand everything and ask people to repeat the same thing multiple times. You will realize how much your language is part of who you are. I remember when I first arrived, I was feeling like I couldn’t fully be myself as I couldn’t make puns, jokes, or respond to the person’s comment as fast as I would in French.
I am now realizing that, even after 8 years of living in America, it still requires extra focus for me to understand a conversation or a movie in English compared to my mother tongue and I still make mistakes when I speak (or write). News flash though, you don’t need to be perfect to be fluent. However, learning a new language by being forced to speak it, is the fastest way to do so.
Your chance to easily explore different parts of the world
Yup! I saved the best for last. One of the things that still get me excited about living abroad, is to have access to a brand new part of the world. I used to spend 10 hours on a plane to be able to check out the U.S., Canada, or the Caribbean. Now in 2 hours, I can get to Bermuda, I am only 4 hours away from the Caribbean and in 6 hours I can either fly home or check out the West Coast.
And you don’t even need to fly anywhere. Chances are that, at first, you will be drowning in the new opportunities for adventure. Whether it is a road trip in the next state or country, to check out the countryside or the next big city, you will have plenty to do.
Another positive side to deciding to live abroad is that, even though you will be busy exploring your new surroundings, it will bring a renewed appreciation for your home country. Every time I go home to visit family and friends, I always make a point to take a few days to travel locally. I recently travelled to Lower Engadine, in the very Eastern part of Switzerland, which I never considered to do before I was away from home!
Okay so now if I haven’t helped you to contemplate the idea of living abroad, please leave a comment with what is holding you back. I am just here to convince you to make the best decision of your life!