Invaluable life lessons exist for those who choose to live abroad. It’s one thing to travel a couple of hours away from home, or even to move across the country, but the shock of exposing yourself to an entirely new culture pays dividends.
Before my flight from the U.S to Spain, a friend of mine purchased a nice moleskin journal for me. The experiences I’ve written in this journal contain several reoccurring themes I’d be more than happy to share with you all. Moving to another country is an excellent way to burst out of your comfort zone.
1: Money isn’t everything, but I’d be lying to you if I said it doesn’t equate to happiness…
I left my job in NYC when I made the decision to live abroad in Spain. Without a legit source of income, I had to resort to tight budgeting for living and traveling. Eating out daily, for example, destroys your savings. Without a written down budget in hand, your funds will deplete.
Experiences are far more valuable than materialistic things. I wish I would’ve saved more money for my trips to Rome, Paris, and London rather than eating out daily. On another note, moving to another country opened my eyes to the incredible experiences money can buy.
Traveling to all of these different cities outside of the States has fired me up. There are hundreds of new locations on the map to hit, and I’m motivated to save up a fortune for these future travels.
2: Travel can be as easy or as difficult as you want…
You can look up lavish hotels where you can stay in or opt for a cheap hostel with your friends. Careful calculation for where you want to travel makes everything easy. Don’t give in to the fancy advertisements, first class flights, and heavy suitcases. Moving to another country has forced me to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Keep it simple, write out your budget, and enjoy the world.
3. You should do your homework and learn basic phrases of a new language…
How would you feel if someone in your hometown came up to you assuming you knew Italian, Chinese, or Arabic? You’d be confused and you’d have no idea how to respond. Now, imagine this person is screaming at you with their foreign tongue repeating the same thing over and over. They’re frustrated and you feel very annoyed.
This is what life is like for people who live in tourist destinations like Paris. Before I traveled to the City of Lights, people warned me of false French stereotypes. They told me that the people there are incredibly rude. I discovered that the French are very generous and accommodating.
You need to learn basic phrases like
“Do you speak _____”
“Where is….” etc. so you don’t look like a fool assuming everyone should speak your language.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
If you’re a native English speaker, you’ll realize how lucky you are to be able to communicate in many different cities across the world. It’s easy to keep to yourself, go online to google, and search up recommendations for what to see and do when you travel. The next time you feel lost, ask around. You’ll build new connections with complete strangers, and you’ll be shocked to find some people near your hometown that feel just as lost as you are. Moving to another country fosters invaluable relationships.
Traveling alone is fun. There are no restrictions and you follow your own schedule. Branch out and talk to some of the locals
5. Perspective is an important aspect of growing…
Traveling abroad will open up your perspective to a variety of different cultures. You’ll appreciate what you have back home in the States when you look at the unemployment rate in certain countries. A simple walk down a random street in a new country will expose you to the unsettling lifestyles people endure. Moving to another country may place you in a state of shock when you realize how lucky you are to live in a first-world country like the U.S.
6. Everything is not guaranteed to stay…
You’ll find yourself in an exciting new city. It might be the most beautiful beach town of your choice, but the sad thing you eventually realize is that your stay is not permanent. The people with you, you never know if you’ll experience the same adventures with them. People grow apart and we all have our respective homes. Traveling often means that you never know if you’ll ever see the same people again. Moving to another country means you’ll have to work harder to maintain your relationships back home.
Don’t take my word for it. I can’t predict your future. You can also fire yourself up and work your tail off so you can return again in the future.
7. Don’t lie to yourself..it’s easy to workout and train while abroad…
A lot of people (myself included) fall into the trap telling themselves that they don’t need to workout when they travel or they’re on “vacation.” Does this mean that if you take a week off to explore a new city you should neglect your fitness? Absolutely not.
How hard is it to lace up your running shoes around your backpack and wake up early for a run around the city? You’ll explore new parts of Paris along the Seine, and run across the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona in the process.
It’s easy to behave like everyone else. You can use the excuse that you have no gym, or you can hit the floor and start cranking out some pushups. Walk around the city and find a park bar or large tree branch for pull ups. Moving to another country doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to get out of shape.
8. Don’t lie to yourself…it’s easy to eat/drink healthy while abroad
If you combine going out to the club in a foreign city with a new time zone you’ll find that your usual habits are out of whack. When your entire schedule starts to fall apart you can succumb to your craving to eat a load of fried food at that cheap unhealthy restaurant. Again, you must be smart.
Don’t eat street food in a completely foreign environment.
Search up and ask questions if the tap water around you is safe to drink.
Stick to your budget and keep your health a priority.
9. Applying yourself outside of the classroom is the best way to learn…
Let’s say you’re studying a new language while living abroad. You’re taking classes and receive stellar grades on all of your exams and assignments. Now, if you had a choice between going out and talking to strangers in Spanish asking about their life or staying inside to memorize vocab words which will benefit you more in the future? Easy answer.
Immerse yourself into a new language to have the full experience of living abroad. Listen to the popular music in that language, talk about current events going on with the locals near where you live. Doing all of this is a way better alternative to staying inside memorizing a study guide for your next language test. Practice makes perfect, so get out there and practice putting yourself into uncomfortable language barrier situations to force yourself to grow.
10. Don’t settle, there’s always something new out there waiting for you to discover…
Don’t conform to the crowd and don’t sacrifice your happiness in order to please others. If you want to travel to a city but your group of friends wants to head off another direction, go solo. If you have the opportunity to explore that city you’ve always wanted to see just go for it. Remember, as I mentioned on point 6, nothing is guaranteed to stay.
Lastly, when you feel the novelty of living in a new location wearing off, that’s your cue to pack up and head off to the next city.
Log off the internet right now and go travel!