People in Spain have asked me questions I think are silly, but they are truly curious about what my lifestyle is like. They ask me if I’m rich because I am living in Spain for 9 months. My answer to them is no, I’m earning money while I’m here, and I’m used to a higher cost of living so I am able to budget easily here.
They ask me how I am able to travel if I don’t speak other languages. My answer to that is that in most big cities of the world, most people speak many languages, English being one of them. I also studied Spanish, French, and Latin in high schools and I can use those bases to try to pick apart words. If all else fails, I Google what I need to say.
Even in the United States, people who have never left their state can’t fathom how I can pick up and leave my country to live somewhere where I don’t speak the language and have no friends or family. My response to that is you will never understand until you try it.
You can appreciate other cultures, races, religions, and ways of life.
You may find one you like better than your current one.
You have the opportunity to meet new and exciting people and hear their stories.
Growing up in New Jersey, the most interesting story I heard was someone took a trip out of state. Maybe someone had grandparents they never met come over to America on a boat. Maybe someone knew someone who knew someone who did something exciting.
Traveling through other countries, I have met people with the most incredible stories. People who backpacked for months through Asia. People who went to a new place once a month. People who put a wood burner in their van to be able to travel and sleep anywhere they wanted. People who live half the year on one continent and half the year on another continent. People who escaped their country as refugees and can tell me their story. People who’s country forced them to lie about their religion. People like myself who just want the journey of a lifetime, and are getting it.
You can learn new languages.
How can you live in a foreign country without learning to speak at least a little of the language? And how valuable and confident will you be when you know a few other languages?
You see a different side to life, be it good or bad.
Some countries are rich, some are poor. Some governments are fair and protect their citizens, others are corrupt and chaotic. Some people treat everyone equally and well, others don’t believe in equal treatment. Some places are always peaceful, others have constant conflict. Everywhere is different. You don’t have to like the differences, but learn them and appreciate them. You will be a better person if you are able to understand and appreciate differences without judgement.
You are a catalyst for change.
You have the opportunity to change yourself, and to bring change to other places and pass on your new-found wisdom to others less fortunate. Others may not be able to travel for various reasons, be it health, money, fear, or obligations. Bring what you learn back to them so they can live vicariously through you. Change is good.
You will learn a new lifestyle.
You will feel accomplished when you finally feel settled into a new life in a new society, and you can understand and accept the rules, and play by them. In the beginning, you will be tiptoeing around trying not to offend anyone, wondering why you’re getting strange looks or people aren’t as friendly as you thought they’d be. Once you learn the rules of the new society, you can play by them and fit right in. Once you master the rules, you can master the game of life.
Things will be put into perspective for you.
Money, expensive clothes, and fancy cars becomes less important and less material. You realize there are more important things in life, but you also learn the value of a dollar (or euro, pound, drachma, krona, or wherever you might end up). The scale of important things in life becomes well distributed.
Living overseas is different than visiting.
When you visit, you see only what they want you to see; they cater to you, speak your language, and treat you as you would be treated in your home town. Living in the “real” country, you see how people really live, you learn to live that way too, and you feel part of the country. You’re not just visiting, you’re living.
You will experience and gain so much more than if you didn’t travel.
Imagine taking away all the memories of any trip you’ve ever gone on, so you only have the memories of your hometown. How do you feel about that person? That person is a little naive, doesn’t know what he or she is missing, needs more life experiences to better assess life? Now imagine there is someone who has traveled the world and experienced many more things than you ever have. To that traveler, you are the naive person who doesn’t know what you’re missing. You may think you are experienced, but there is no such thing as traveling too much.
Have you lived overseas? How has it made you a better person? Let me know in the comments below!
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