Living in a foreign country might sound scary, but foreign countries are not only for enjoying all inclusive holidays, taking selfies abroad, or go backpacking for a month, just to tick few countries on the list and then check-in on Facebook. Isn’t it much better to explore cultures, meet extraordinary people, learn new languages and manage to deal with things on your own? No need to answer: it most certainly is! So why don’t you take the leap? I’m not saying that you absolutely have to to immigrate to Chile for the rest of your life, but studying abroad, doing an internship in another country or starting a family somewhere else is much better than complaining every single morning about the place you’re stuck with.
So shall we reconsider how scary it is to live in a foreign country?
For many people, especially for those of us who were born in Europe, foreign countries are only really there as holiday destinations. However, living abroad changes your perspective – and broadens it. Slowly, you’ll begin to realise that we don’t all live in the same world after all. Even rules or social practices can be completely different. Actually, that’s the beauty of it. You change, you grow, you realise that your bubble is not the centre of the world – and you may even decide to pop it. If you think that burping is bad, go to China where it’s a compliment for the host! If you think that forks are always needed, go to Pakistan where people will laugh if they see you dipping with a fork instead of with your bread. If you think that a nod of the head means ‘Yes’, go to Bulgaria where it’s a definite sign of a ‘No’. Explore cultures! Don’t be just a tourist who wants a good service and doesn’t know the difference between Bucharest and Budapest.
Try to challenge your brain and learn a new language. Unfortunately, many native English speakers refuse to learn a new language and expect that the old lady they’re talking to from Granada will automatically speak their language. We live in a society where we are privileged not to have to walk for miles to find drinkable water, so let’s at least take advantage of the wealth of opportunities for education that are available to us. The best way to do this is to learn a language in its country of origin. So instead of being scared to move to another country, be happy that you’ll be able to learn a new language better than anyone that’s learning it at home! You don’t have to do it to get a better job, you don’t have to do it to get a good mark– you can do it or the sake of learning. Greek?! Why not? Just like any other subject you studied at school – there is absolutely nothing scary about it!
Locals are the exact people who’ll help you to get to know your new home better than any other tour guide. Contradict your own history lessons, challenge the news on TV, and fight prejudices. The thirst to explore is even greater abroad and you’ll be more willing to visit more places in a desire to become a local yourself. If, for instance, you’re living in Bavaria, you’ll probably have all the lakes, small villages and gorges in the region on your to-do list, much more so than somebody who has lived there for years!
Living abroad expands your views, tickles your brain and fills your heart with new memories and people. By embracing a new country, you can learn new habits, new recipes, new traditions and new ways of dressing. All this teaches you one crucial thing: to be independent and to rely on yourself. Did you ever think that you would be capable of working somewhere else and being able to find your own place without your parent’s help before? Well done then!
You have to start somewhere, but you should also give your new endeavour a fighting chance. Every country has good and bad side. When you move to a new country, you’re still fascinated by everything: it’s your honeymoon. At the same time, you will also be compelled to notice every little thing. With time, you will become increasingly realistic and see the bad sides too. You might experience culture shock and nostalgia. But every thing that happens, good or bad, is part of the experience. By recognising both sides, you’ll be able to get used to the new country, think of it less as foreign and ‘other’, and eventually make it your home. A home you love.