Living overseas is one of the most exciting and transformative experiences a person can have during their lifetime. The ultimate value of your experience abroad will depend on your willingness to take risks and embrace the newness and uncertainty that comes with living overseas. Ultimately, living overseas can be challenging, but it’s worth the effort.
What Are The Advantages Of Living Abroad?
The primary advantages of living abroad are:
- Learning a new language and developing professional linguistic fluency, which can be an asset for the rest of your career.
- Immersing yourself in new customs and cultures which gives you valuable international experience.
- Developing an international network of friends and a new understanding of the uniqueness of your home country.
- Gaining exposure and a new understanding of the history, art, philosophies and traditions of another culture
- Developing your personal growth and creating new strategies for facing challenges and obstacles.
Is Living Overseas Right For You?
Residence in a new country is not like taking a holiday. The local schedules, mentalities, and values often seem charming as a visitor, but as a resident even minor differences, like store hours, often force you to confront your expectations of what is ‘normal’. Of course, it’s not a bad thing to need to adapt to your new environment. In fact, that’s what living overseas is all about. It won’t be easy, but it will be empowering and transformative if you keep a positive mentality and open yourself to new ways of doing things.
When you move overseas, you start to notice the little things that you never really noticed before. In addition to noting all of the similarities and differences between your home culture and the new one that surrounds you, you may begin to recognise the lovely little everyday things that we tend to take for granted.
Most importantly, you’ll begin to learn your own strength, your ability to be flexible and patient in new situations, and your adaptability. You’ll start to become more grateful and aware of all the special things that life has to offer, both in your home country and in your new environment.
Do You Have To Learn The Local Language When You Live Abroad?
Unless you move to another English speaking nation, you will probably want to learn the local language to some degree in order to get around with ease and make friends. Even if you don’t speak the language well, most people appreciate it if you try. While you can get by in most of Europe with English, that’s not necessarily true if you’re planning to visit other continents.
Because moving overseas is not like taking an extended vacation, you will need to integrate into the local culture and way of life. This means that you will have to change your habits and learn how to communicate with people in their native tongue, especially if you are not living in an area that caters to tourists from English speaking countries. So before you make your move, it’s a good idea to start taking lessons and to memorise important words and phrases, particularly those related to asking for help or directions.
The best way to learn a new language is by immersing yourself in it. Challenge yourself by really committing to speaking like the locals do. Avoid the temptation of speaking English and expecting people to know what you are saying. Start living amongst the locals, and practice, practice, practice. You might feel embarrassed every now and then, but this really is a much better way to learn than relying on a book.
In the end, living abroad opens your eyes to a whole new culture, and you get the chance to enhance your communication skills in multiple ways. So if you’ve always wanted to learn a new language and use it daily, moving abroad is the best way to do it.
Living Abroad Means Getting Used To Daily Challenges
From hygiene to manners, there are many things that you learned growing up that have helped shape your personality and your habits. But when you move to another country, all of those things go out the window. That’s because all of those things are relative to the culture that you are living in.
It’s these small differences in social norms that form the basis of the idea of culture shock. It can be hard not to be judgmental about such differences, but keeping an open mind is essential to making the most of your experience overseas.
Half the fun of living overseas is being able to see how other people live and what their society’s expectations are. As you learn the ropes, you’ll get comfortable and you’ll be able to embrace new habits and customs that will make you feel right at home.
How Much Does it Cost To Live Abroad?
The cost of living varies from city to city in a single country, so it should come as no surprise that will also vary greatly from one nation to another. This means that you will need to calculate how much you’ll have to earn each year from your job in order to afford your home, food, entertainment, clothes, medical care, and other necessities.
A good way to start gauging how far your money will go, especially if you are taking savings with you when you move, is by using a currency converter, but bear in mind that exchange rates are always shifting.
There are some countries where your money won’t be worth as much, which means you will have to adjust to a higher cost of living, and that can be tough if you are planning on working for yourself or making about the same amount of money as you did at home. In other parts of the world, you can stretch your savings really far, and if you continue earning money from overseas, you may be able to live quite luxuriously.
What are the pros and cons of living abroad?
Unless you already have a strong support network in the form of friends and/or family overseas, when you move there, you will be on your own. This means that you need to have a self-reliant nature, or at least get ready to strengthen your independent side. You shouldn’t expect that you will find people who will help you. Instead, you will need to figure out where to go shopping, how to hail a cab, and how to run errands by yourself.
The pros of living abroad are:
- You gain independence and valuable life experience by being self-reliant.
- Everyday is a learning experience. There’s no limit to your personal development.
- You develop new profound relationships that fundamentally change who you are.
- You become more objective about the habits, customs and policies of your home country.
- You begin to understand the world in a more holistic way and gain historical perspective.
The cons of living abroad are:
- It can be costly to fly home to see friends and family.
- You may have to lower your standard of living if you move to an expensive country.
- It may be lonely at times.
- Daily life can be more difficult and may be frustrating at times.
The truth is that it could take you a lot longer to get something done when you are living overseas because there is such a big learning curve involved. What would ordinarily take you just a few minutes to complete while living in your home country could take you upwards of an hour to do in another country. That is, until you get the hang of things. Over time, you will learn the ropes and things will get easier and you will become more efficient.
So what’s it really like living overseas?
In the end, your international experience will be entirely up to you and how you approach your move abroad. Even though there are a lot of things that you need to adjust to when you move overseas, there are also so many things to love about becoming an expat. You will be able to experience a new place and every beautiful thing that it has to offer. From historical sites to breathtaking natural environments, you can tour it all and see it all firsthand. All those places that you’ve read about or seen on TV can finally become accessible, and you will have the time of your life taking it all in.
On top of that, you will have the chance to learn all about a new culture, including their traditions, holidays, cuisine, and entertainment. You will become a well-rounded individual who appreciates the diversity found all over the planet. And you will discover so much about others, as well as about yourself along the way. Living overseas helps open your eyes to what life can be like outside of the environment that you grew up in, and that is simply irreplaceable.
Ultimately, what you might end up realising is that you feel more comfortable living overseas than you did living back home. You might fall in love with the scenery and the way of life, and you will make some lifelong friends and connections with people who support you and care about you.
What You Put In Is What You Get Out
Like anything else that is worthwhile in life, moving overseas and making your home in another country can be daunting at first, but your efforts will pay off. If you have always loved travelling and seeing the world, as well as making friends wherever you go, you will feel right at home in another country and you will not regret living abroad.
So go ahead and go for it. After all, you only live once, and there’s such a lot of world to see.
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