Relocating to a new country is a big deal, I’m not going to lie. It is downright scary and stressful to even think about leaving a familiar environment and having to ‘start all over again’ in a new place. That being said, if you could choose to move overseas, do it. At least for a year. Whether it’s for work or school or volunteering – do it. Few people are lucky enough to be presented with such a choice.
Keep in mind though, what I’m talking about is different from traveling. When you’re traveling you tend to move quickly from one location to the next. Most people don’t have the opportunity to absorb the sense of settling in a foreign country before they’re off again to something new. And there nothing wrong with that. It’s just not the same.
So here are 8 reasons – my reasons – on why you should move to a new country.
1. Reinvent or discover new things about yourself (or selves).
You’re in a new country, new environment and nobody knows who you are. Let your true personality shine! There is no freer opportunity to be yourself. Or if there are aspect of your personality that you’re working on, like being more extroverted or being more adventurous, the likelihood of getting the chance to do so is increased. Because when you’re in a new country, you’re constantly being bombarded with new friends and new experiences. Back home you’ll be tempted to stay in your comfort zone of friends, family and daily life. For me, I became more outgoing and better at talking to people because, really, there was no choice. Being lonely in a foreign country is a terrible, terrible experience. Alternatively, you will discover new things about yourself. I personally discovered my passion for the outdoors in Singapore. And it’s ironic because I was constantly surrounded by it in Canada and didn’t really fully appreciate the outdoors until I was away. It’s always like that, isn’t it? Couples may find moving overseas either extremely difficult or that the relationship becomes stronger while navigating all the obstacles along the way.
2. Practise independence at a whole new level
You’re on your own. No matter how much help your new job or travel agent or your Mom back at home can give you, you’re on your own. Whether it’s preparing paperwork to go overseas or finding accommodations at your destination or opening a new bank account in a foreign language, you have no choice but to take charge and you’re going to be a better person for it. Well, at least a better-organised person. Besides, when all has been said and done at the end of the experience, there is a sense of pride in going on your own.
3. Make money
This is fairly obvious – there are many lucrative jobs overseas. Especially during times of economic difficulty or lack of employment in your area of expertise. Some countries in need of your field of work will not only offer you a job that you spent all that money in school for, they’re give you more responsibilities and exposure that you would otherwise receive at home. Taxes may be lower and living expenses may not be as high. You’ll have to research those ones. But be careful, moving overseas just for the money can be highly unrewarding in many other aspects. For me, teaching jobs seemed few and far between when I graduated. So instead of spending more money to go back to school or waiting for a job that may-or-may-not appear, I took the plunge.
4. Learn a new language
Admittedly this one is not something I’ve done very well (does Singlish count?). But those fortunate enough to spend time in a country that operates completely in a foreign language, why not learn? It’s useful, it’s challenging, it’s fun – it’s good for your brain! You’ll feel so much more connected to where you are and get to know people better. When you go back home, it’ll be an asset on your resume. People will be so impressed and jealous.
Go exploring in your new country and surrounding areas! You would perhaps otherwise not travel to this area if you hadn’t moved there. And because places are closer to your new home, it’ll be a lot cheaper. This is especially true for North Americans. It takes so long just to even get out of the country. Personally, I’ve done more traveling than I thought I would since moving to Singapore. It’s an aviation hub with a fantastic airport and I get Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar …. all within a 4-hour plane ride. You can also go local and explore areas that no tourist would ever dream of even know of going. Which, leads to my next point …
6. Experience a different culture (and live it)
When in Rome, they say. To move to a new country and call it home is to experience the new culture in a way that will let you be part of the culture. True, someone’s participation level in the new culture largely depends on their ability to adapt to their environment, their curiosity of their surroundings and desire to understand fellow human beings. But should you take on the challenge, you can be like the locals. You can search out all the local pub, local food, find the cheapest markets,
7. Your Perspective About Life Will Change
Observations and comparisons and differences about life, society and the world between your home country and your new country will undoubtedly emerge, whether this is intended or not. And this makes you think about many world issues from a totally different perspective. This one is a little vague, but it’s my opinion that living in foreign environments allow us to be more empathetic and understanding.
When I was in Nepal, there was a road being build to connect all the communities on the Annapurna Circuit Trek. The multi-day teahouse hike is considered a ‘classic’ trek, and scenery was indeed sublime, but tourists and trekking enthusiasts were crying foul over the road that would ruin the feel of the hike. When I began the hike, I was of this camp of thinking as well. Sort of like, oh here comes ‘progress’ and ‘convenience’ again, ruining yet another stunning part of the world. But then my local guide told me that the road was important for the villages as it is easier and faster to seek medical help, better connected to larger communities during the winter and it’s easier to transport supplies up to remote locations. Ding, the light when on in my head and I was slapped in the face with the realization of my overly romanticized ideas of beautiful remote Nepalese villages and their traditional ways of life. I am still torn by the existence of the road but I was set thinking in a deeper sort of way.
And when the time arrives, you, too, will be set thinking.
8. Appreciate your friends and family more
As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Cliche, yes, but it’s true. All it takes is that one Christmas spent away from home to make you realize how much your peeps mean to you. Or being seriously ill and wishing your Dad would cook dinner, only to peel yourself out of bed for a bowl of cornflakes.
Not that we take our friends and family for granted. It’s just different when you’re ‘out there’.