So why does living overseas make you a better person?
It Opens Your Mind
People here 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.
It Gives You an Appreciation of the World
You can appreciate other cultures, races, religions, and ways of life. One of the biggest things people fear is the unknown. If you don’t understand it, it might scare you. When you travel or immerse yourself in the unknown, there’s nothing to fear anymore and you can start to appreciate beautiful things instead of fear them. You may find a world you like better than your current one.
You Meet New People
Living abroad gives you 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. Someone who backpacked for months through Asia. People who went to a new place once a month. A couple who put a wood burner in their van to be able to travel and sleep anywhere they wanted. A strong, independent woman who lives half the year on one continent and half the year on another continent. A man who escaped his country as a refugee and lived to tell me his story. People who’s country forced them to lie about their religion or be persecuted. And still other people like myself who just want the journey of a lifetime, and are getting it.
You Learn New Things
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 can learn how to live without all the amenities the Western world is used to. When you live in a medieval village, there’s no heat in the houses. There’s definitely no dish washer or microwave. You learn how to live with the basics and appreciate life without the conveniences.
You can learn how to drive a manual car! Americans take automatic transmission for granted, and a recent study showed only 18 percent of Americans can drive stick. In Europe, everyone drives stick. To rent a car without paying a fortune, you have to learn to drive stick. Plus, why not? It’s fun.
You can learn the metric system! I guess this one only applies to Americans, but I didn’t know how to set my oven or tell a doctor how tall I was in metric units. It was silly to think 30 degrees Celsius was cold because 32 degrees Fahrenheit is the freezing point. I had no way of converting these measurements without my phone or long mental calculations. Thanks to living abroad, now I can understand what everything means without converting it.
You See a Different Side to Life
Living overseas helps you to 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. While some people treat everyone equally and well, others don’t believe in equal treatment of all people. Some places are always peaceful, and others have constant strife and war. Everywhere is different. You don’t have to like the differences, but you will learn them and appreciate them. And you will be a better person if you are able to understand and appreciate differences without judgement.
You Will Become a Catalyst for Change
Living abroad gives you the opportunity to bring change to other places and pass on your newfound 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 know or learn to them so they can understand the world through you. Show them why change is good.
You Will Overcome Fears and Accomplish Your Dreams
You will feel accomplished when you finally settle into a new life in a new world 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. This is when you win.
You Will See the Important Things in Life
Things will be put into perspective for you. Money becomes less of an object and less material. You realize there are more important things in life, but you also learn the value of a dollar (or euro, or pound, or peso, or wherever you might end up). The scale of important things in life becomes well distributed.
You Will See the “Real” Country
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. It gives you a deeper connection to the place when you live there instead of just visit there.
You Will Experience the World
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.
So Why Does Living Overseas Make You a Better Person?
There’s only one way you can experience traveling and living abroad, and that’s to do it. Watching movies or tv shows, reading blogs, seeing pictures…these things are fleeting. Without the time and effort you put into living abroad, you won’t truly experience what it’s like. When you settle into a new world and slip into a new culture, you bring with you what you know, and eventually bring home what you learned. You’re a walking movie, book, or picture that can teach others from experience. Once you let go of your fears and accept the strangeness of living your life in a new place, you’ll learn to appreciate everything else around you that much more.
The moral of the story? Take the chance and go on an adventure. You won’t regret it, and you may just emerge a better person.
What do you think, does living overseas make you a better person? Has it changed you? Let me know in the comments below!
Like this post? Pin it!