5 Ways to Improve Your Life by Living Abroad

Living abroad is an incredible experience in itself, but also provides you with opportunities to learn valuable skills that you can transfer to life back at home.

Photo by Marco Nürnberger (CC BY 2.0)

Learn a new language

Speaking another language is always an advantage when applying to jobs, but it will also make living in your new home much easier. According to the Expat Insider 2016 survey from InterNations, women who live abroad have better language skills than men — nearly one-third say they can speak the local language very well, compared to only one-quarter of men. There’s no better way to experience a different culture than being able to fully immerse yourself in it — learning the language is the first step!

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Study for life

By living abroad and interacting with people from different cultures, you will learn that education is not standardized. By studying abroad, you’ll have the possibility to learn different techniques and ways of thinking that you wouldn’t have been exposed to in your studies back home. Not only do you diversify your knowledge of a particular subject, you also continue learning every day, becoming more open-minded as you are exposed to a range of people, cultures, and ideas.

Miriam Koschel from Germany studied abroad in both the United States and Denmark. For her, the most interesting part of university life was the relationship between students and their professors: “Although the professor is someone they respect, the setting was more relaxed and I felt like opinions and ideas were taken much more seriously. It was also more practice-oriented, which was more interesting that just studying theory. I would never have experienced this different approach if I hadn’t studied abroad.”

Photo by Vinoth Chandar (CC BY 2.0)

Adapt to an international working environment and improve your career chances

You will be surprised how much work cultures vary in different countries. Your colleagues may have a completely different schedule, structure, and attitude to work. German professional etiquette generally tends to be very punctual, organized, and direct, but this is probably not what you would encounter while working in Spain, the USA or China, for example.

“I had to learn that socializing and being friends with colleagues (and bosses!) is essential to grow in a company and be an integral part of the team.” shares Bettina Baiz on her experience working abroad compared to her native Germany. Though working abroad and in an international environment can be a drastic change at first, it is important to be aware and understanding of differences.

Even if you’ve only lived abroad for a short amount of time, you will come back with better cultural awareness. This is a very valuable skill when working for an international company or organization; being able to understand the needs and motives of clients or customers in foreign markets can help improve your career prospects.

Though working abroad can be a drastic change at first, Emily Englert, who’s based in Munich but originally from the UK, stresses that; “understanding the vast differences in business cultures you discover abroad actually gives you a huge amount to offer when you return home.”

Photo by Kai Chan Vong (CC BY 2.0)

Make new friends around the world

An international network of friends and colleagues is an invaluable asset — you never know when you might be looking for your next big career move, or need some advice on an upcoming trip. Even after you’ve return home or moved to a new destination, international social networks help you to stay in touch with your new acquaintances.

For people like Iwona Gawlewicz — a Polish national currently living in Oman — a professional network, like InterNations, was essential to making a new country home. “I like that people from different backgrounds come together with a positive mind set — aiming to make the most of their situation.”

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Appreciate your own culture

While you are bound to learn a plethora of new things, being away from home may also teach you to appreciate your own culture and how truly unique it is. Small habits that you never thought twice about will be pointed out to you as being strange, and using colloquial slang may garner confused looks from the locals. By living and working abroad, you will begin to understand how much the place you are from is a part of who you are, and you will learn to embrace it. Sharing your customs and traditions is just as exciting as learning new ones.

Photo by Vinoth Chandar (CC BY 2.0)

Victoria Borisch is originally from the great state of Wisconsin, but she has spent the past three years exploring the untamed beauty of the Republic of Georgia, becoming a whisky drinker in Scotland, practicing a new language in Russia, eating her weight’s worth of Langos in Hungary and enjoying the beer gardens in Germany. She is currently based in Munich and works in the public relations department at InterNations.

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