Moving to another country for the first time is a big step to take. For many, it can awaken a craving for new cultures and experiences that never goes away. As alumni of EF Academy you are already aware that living abroad will change you as a person for the rest of your life. My first taste of living abroad was a year’s exchange to Sweden when I was 20 and it opened my eyes to the possibilities of living and working in another country. I only wish I could have done it sooner.
Find your place in the world
One of the main things I learned from my time abroad was that there are people living their lives all over the world. This may sound obvious, but it doesn’t occur to everyone. People live, work, eat, and fall in love all over the world, all of the time. You are rarely restricted by living in your home country to find your dream job, or at least to get yourself started. Living and working abroad can help you develop a clearer sense of self, and help you to understand yourself and your goals more clearly. My time in Sweden did this for me, and eight months after graduating from university I moved from the UK to Switzerland to start working for EF Academy. I could not have made a better decision.
Grow as an individual
Living and working abroad can certainly be intimidating, but it opens up so many opportunities. In the next five years, global executives will need experience of working abroad in order to keep up with the changing nature of business. As we grow into “the people that work abroad”, our experiences set us apart from those who stayed at home. Living abroad allows us to understand ourselves on a deeper level and be more comfortable with who we are. Our experiences allow us to see the world and ourselves from a different perspective, and help us to approach life differently than others.
Experience cultures as a local
With each new country or city comes a new culture and, in many cases, new languages to learn. One of the joys of living abroad is finding that you have something in common with someone from a completely different cultural background. Depending on where you go, you will also likely notice tourists visiting the city where you live. This is a particular point of pride to me: I get to live somewhere that others want to visit on holiday, and I can see it every day of the year. Being able to see the cycle of the seasons in a place and experience all of the different cultural moments throughout the year is so amazing.
There are times when living away from home can perhaps be lonely, and it will always take some time to establish yourself in a new place. But once you have built a life somewhere, it is so rewarding. Finding your people and getting involved in the community of a new place is an experience like no other. On top of that, those of us who choose this path are many, and the more we interact, the more amazing opportunities we can offer each other.