Okay, I have to say I probably had a lot of things going on in my head before moving abroad for the first time. Actually, I had come back from an awesome trip just two weeks before my scheduled departure and I still had no place to live in Glasgow. Or a plan how to go about it, but that’s a different story. So I was mainly panicking about that, thinking about how I would miss my family and fighting off doubts about my life choices. Since then I have moved house a couple of times and I can only thank myself (ok, maybe my mum a little bit too) for making the choice to study abroad. I know that if I hadn’t decided to move abroad then, I would be in a very different place in my life right now (not only geographically). I have thought about the reasons to move abroad from my perspective of the experiences I have had so far.
Not much to complain about when your uni is Hogwarts.
1. Becoming adaptable
As human beings we like the familiar. Moving abroad is literally taking yourself outside of your comfort zone and leaving everything familiar behind you. You go head first into something absolutely unknown, full of all kinds of surprises. So it’s ok to feel excited, impacient, overwhelmed, scared and what have you. The new place will be different- culture, certain rules of behaviour, norms etc. And it will be you who will have to adapt and accept these rules. It’s a powerful lesson and a very mind-opening one.
Moving to a different country is not easy! The movies got it all wrong as Young Adventuress says. But the fact that it is not easy is actually a good reason to move abroad. Face your fears.
With time, all these things that could have been annoying at first will start to literally disappear. It’s surprising how fast we can adapt to new conditions and how addictive it gets. Then you come back home and you start annoying all your friends with your reverse culture shock.
2. Liking the change
Yeah, change is addictive. I have to say, before I moved away from my family home, I always had this feeling of waiting for life to happen. I had no idea what I was waiting for, I didn’t have any specific plan for my future, I only ever planned the next step. When I moved abroad and started travelling a bit, I realised that sensation was gone. I was waiting for a change. Up until that moment I spent the first 20 years of my life living in the same place, in the same house. I needed a change!
You get addicted to beginning with a clean slate in a new place, to discovering all the corners of the new city. Moving house has taught me that change is good for me and not as frightening as it seems. Nothing ever is.
Malvarrosa Beach in Valencia- I fulfilled my dream of living in a city by the sea here 🙂
Plus coming back home is a wonderful feeling. I am no longer there because of lack of options, but because I choose to and I love every minute of the time spent with my family. Sometimes, constantly being in an unfamiliar place, even if you’ve been living there for months, is exhausting. And speaking a foreign language all the time as well. And having to miss everybody when the homesickness kicks in from time to time as well. A talk on skype or going home to visit is a well-deserved break from being the adventurous explorer and I love this part.
3. Enriching your outlook on life
The truth is, you are taught a lot of rules and truths about the world when growing up. A lot of them are either useless or at least not impossible to change. You just never realise until you see someone doing things differently. Suddenly, many things are not that obvious anymore, cause people you meet in the new place look at them differently. There’s no rigid way of thinking, no right way of approaching life.
As much as we can think of ourselves as open-minded and curious what we like most is surrounding ourselves with similar people. Our friends ten
d to have grown up in a similar background and have experiences that remind us of our own. This is how people form bonds. Even travelling to another country we tend to do that. It’s worth taking a step further and looking for less familiar circles of people. I also mentioned that about making friends when studying abroad.
I love the diversity of European cultures. It is all so close and yet within a day drive by the car you can get to another country with a completely different language and culture. So actually travelling around Europe it is really easy to explore different subcultures and ways of life.
4. Appreciating your own country more
I think nationality is one of the big things that shape who we are. Moving abroad not only lets us have a closer look at the culture of the foreign country we
chose, but also at our own.
I have been meeting a lot of people who, hearing I am Polish, would tell me about their trip to Poland and how awesome it was. They usually add a couple of swear words they learned in Polish (it seems like swear words are one of my nation’s most valuable assets). But they also tell me how beautiful and interesting my country is. I love Poland and I do think it is beautiful, but they were seeing it with different eyes. While I tend to focus more on my nation’s collective faults and shortcomings, they, as tourist, pointed out how welcoming, generous and nice the people in Poland are.
Yeah, they are. And creative, and open-minded, and hard-working. I started to appreciate where I come from, telling my foreign friends about how awesome our food is and spamming them with drone videos of Polish landscapes.
5. You become a citizen of the world
Travel blogger AnnaEverywhere recently mentioned that she has been travelling so much and lived in so many places, that she feels more like a citizen of the world than a person of certain nationality. Although I haven’t travelled nearly as much as she did, I can say that it’s really true. It has also nothing to do with lack of patriotism (I have a rocky relationship with my patriotic feelings, but it’s a different story). You just start appreciating how all the different cultures contribute to the richness of the world. Knowing more about them and experiencing them slowly makes you get rid of the national lens you were seeing the world through.
If you need more reasons to move abroad here are a bit more practical aspects…
6. Practising minimalism
Because of the degree I chose, I am moving house quite often and I have to take all my stuff with me back to my parents’ home and again to another place. This kind of thing makes you reconsider everything that you pack. Well, you’re packing for a semester or a year somewhere, so you need something for every occasion right? Well, when you consider how much an additional luggage costs with low-fare airlines (the only airlines I use) you start looking for alternatives and ways to make it smaller and lighter. There’s a lot of things we own we don’t really need to have with us all the time and it is actually healthy to learn to surround ourselves with less stuff. I am slowly getting there…
7. And you become a master of packing
That’s just an obvious addition to the previous one. I travel a lot with only a small suitcase or a backpack and I have gotten quite good at packing everything I need in there. The rest of the stuff goes into cheesy puffs boxes.
Also, I got pretty good at having things well prepared for airport security check. It saves time, believe me. Please, please don’t be that person that has no idea about the rules although there are like a hundred posters listing them.
8. Also an expert in cheap decoration
If you’re studying abroad, most probably you only have a room as a space only for yourself. Whether in the student halls or sharing a flat, that room will be your space for some time and you want to make it nice and cosy. Quickly, you become an expert on decorating your room on no budget and making it yours so you don’t miss home that much. This can come in handy one day 😉
Have you moved abroad to study and have some more insights? Let me know!