Some people spend their whole lives dreaming about moving to another country, someplace far away, to experience a new culture and to travel. There are so many wonderful and beautiful places to see, so why wouldn’t you dream of seeing them all, and by extension, living in some of them to fully experience everything they have to offer? Moving abroad can impact your life in so many positive ways: new experiences, new lifestyles, and new beginnings.
It can also be intimidating and downright scary to pack up your life into a suitcase and leave everything you know behind. The comforts of home might be too comfortable to give up, and it can be quite the emotional task to do so, especially for those people who leave behind friends and family to move to a place where they have to build up a support system from scratch.
However, that shouldn’t stop you from realizing your travel dreams. There are so many benefits to moving abroad, and the last thing you want to do is regret not taking the opportunity when you had it available to you. It’s much easier to move to another country when you’re younger and before you have settled down with a partner and a family, although travelling with your family abroad is definitely possible too, there are quite a few more things to consider and it makes it much more complicated than if you were just moving yourself and a few suitcases.
Despite the risks and the challenges, the benefits of exploring new ways of life far outweigh any trepidation. Here are the reasons to move abroad and live your best life.
You will have mind-blowing personal experiences
Packing up and moving to a new country is an excellent way to really learn about yourself. Throwing yourself in the deep end forces you to sink or swim, and you already know you’re going to swim if you’ve taken the initial plunge of deciding to embark on this massive journey. You certainly will build your character, as you will undoubtedly be faced with different challenges along the way. There’s no better way to confront yourself and get to know your limits than to take yourself completely out of your comfort zone.
Finding a new place to live, meeting new people and making new friends, learning new cultural and societal norms, and possibly overcoming a language barrier and learning to speak a new language will teach you more about yourself than you ever thought there was to know. You will reconsider your values and possibly adopt new ones. You might take on new beliefs about yourself and others. Maybe you’ll even reconsider your goals and your purpose in life. No matter what, you will grow as a person.
Moreover, you will gain independence and learn to be self-reliant. Independence can be a learned skill, and it takes some bravery to do so. You have to trust yourself and have the courage to get over the initial fear of facing everything and every new challenge on your own. Once you do, you will also learn how to take care of yourself, whether that means dealing with smaller tasks like doing your own laundry or paying your own bills, or dealing with bigger challenges like complicated visa processes or finding a job. You will also learn to really appreciate the friends and family you have back home, and your connection will be strengthened, rather than weakened, by your distance.
You will gain worldly experience
Trying new things is one of the main pleasures of life, and what better way to immerse yourself in a plethora of new experiences than by moving to a completely different country? Staying in one place your whole life can put you in a personal and cultural bubble, where you don’t get to experience anything outside of your own backyard. Of course, your backyard could include plenty of ethnic foods, music, events, dress, or art, but the excitement of a new adventure, regardless of how big or small the adventure is on any given day, triggers a wonderful feeling of suspense mixed with thrill.
Experience the best kind of culture shock by completely immersing yourself in a totally different way of life. New foods, new languages, and new social customs only scratch the surface. Go on walking tours and bus tours and see parts of the city you never would have known about otherwise. Get yourself lost and end up in a place you never thought about or ever would have gone to. Talk to as many people as you can, say yes to every invitation (as long as it’s safe!), and really learn how the locals live. You will be glad you did when you call or visit home and have a million interesting stories to tell your friends and family.
Furthermore, learning about the history of a place is important to understanding the world at large. Sure, you can Google it and read about it online. Of course you can zoom in on the map and pretend you’re walking down the street. Until you actually visit a place, you can’t understand the gravity of the history of events that occurred. You wouldn’t experience that eerie sensation while walking through the underground city in Edinburgh, or get that humbling feeling of being incredibly small standing at a log cabin built by a single hiker way up in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. These are the kinds of experiences that make you think about the bigger picture in life; the ones that question your beliefs and make you reconsider who you truly are.
You will gain valuable work experience
Some people travel abroad in search of new work experiences. Their home country’s unemployment rate might be too high, the rate of pay in their field might be too low, or the career path they want might not even be offered, or if it is offered, it is not taken seriously at all. Maybe it’s easier to climb the ladder in another country than it is at home, or perhaps the benefits surrounding their job are better somewhere else. Some employers even offer skilled workers extra bonuses and compensation for travel if they relocate.
Whatever the incentive or reason to travel and move abroad, having work experience in another country is an amazing way to give your career a boost and enhance your CV. Having experience abroad shows employers you have learned or refined your soft skills and life skills. Soft skills are highly valuable in today’s workforce – they prove you can fit in with the work culture, learn quickly, and help you keep your job. Some examples of soft skills you can grow while abroad are:
- Communication skills
- Teamwork skills
- The ability to adapt and overcome
- The ability to problem solve
- How to think quickly
- How to remain calm under stress
These are all incredibly beneficial skills to have as an employee, so keep that in mind when applying for a new position when—or if—you go back to your home country. Remember to update your CV to reflect these skills in some way, and have a few professional anecdotes prepared for any interview questions that arise from it.
All of your travel and worldly experiences will also benefit you in ways you may not have thought about. You will gain cross-cultural skills and competencies, something employers value highly in today’s supremely connected world. Having learned a whole new culture, complete with different social norms and faux pas, you can be more aware of expectations in a multicultural place of work, something that is impossible to ignore in today’s workforce. Employers want to hire someone who will fit in with the work culture, but also treat other employees with dignity and respect, and one of the most sure-fire ways to prove you are a respectful person is to explain your cross-cultural competencies.
Sometimes there is a need to upgrade your certification or schooling before applying for a job abroad. Taking an online course at a university in the country you’re moving to beforehand is the best way to ensure you’re preparing yourself for the job market when you arrive. For example, if you were moving to Canada and you work in the public safety sector but want to gain more accreditation, Wilfrid Laurier University offers a safety master degree online that you can complete before immigrating. There are so many accredited universities and colleges that offer online courses spanning almost every discipline you can think of. No matter what requirements you need, whether it’s specialized training, a certificate, diploma, undergraduate degree, or masters degree, you can find a course online.
To sum it all up, moving abroad is one of the best choices you could make for yourself (or your family) and your career. It will open your mind in ways you didn’t think it could, provide you with experiences you will treasure forever, and give you stories you can tell over and over to anyone willing to listen. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the world, because it may not come around again.