If living abroad meant that I could experience the educational and professional perks and benefits that I mentioned in my previous post but none of the personal and spiritual benefits that I’m about to outline below, I’m not sure I’d be so anxious to go abroad again. When it comes to benefits of living abroad or working abroad, there’s so much more than just the educational and professional aspects.
I grew the most as a person while I was abroad because of the reasons I’m about to outline below. And these are the reasons that motivate me to encourage others to step outside of their comfort zones and into a new world. See on the horizon the worlds that await us!
So without any further ado, here are the other 10 benefits of living abroad, which whether you’re working abroad or studying abroad, you will still experience!
Perks of Living Abroad Part 2:
- Educational Benefits (See previous post)
- Professional Benefits (See previous post)
- Personal Benefits
- Spiritual Benefits
- Unconventional/Uncommon Benefits
If you need some benefits of studying abroad for an application essay, these items are perfect to add. When you’re about to move to another country, here are some personal ways that you should expect to grow.
Why are the French people seemingly always on strike? Do Spanish people purposefully eat dinner at 10 pm at night? Why are the British so seemingly rigid?
Even after a year and a half abroad, I still can’t give a definite answer to these questions. As an American, I’ve often been frustrated by these questions. But by staying with a host family in France & Andorra, I’ve been able to stop looking at things through the lens of my American culture and heritage and put on the lens for these different cultures. I do not necessarily agree with the values and customs of all of these cultures, but by living abroad, I’ve been able to understand them from their perspective.
So now, when there is a strike and the metro line is closed, I just shrug my shoulders, say “This is the French way,” and carry on.
When I initially went abroad, I would respond to my problems in a very adult-like fashion…texting my mom with a message with 12 emojis of mixed emotions (????????????). Now, I’ve learned to take the problems in stride and be proactive in finding solutions on my own.
Apart from my parents and in a different environment, I’ve become more independent and more confident. Before, I used to let mistakes disrupt me. Now, I’ve realized that mistakes really aren’t a big deal, but how you handle them determines the consequences. I learned how to work transportation, to call an uber, to read a map, and to not freak out in those moments where everything is falling apart and you missed the last bus and the door to the AirBnB is firmly locked. There is always a solution, and if you calm down for a moment, you can find it.
Being abroad really exposed to me my own limits–particularly in a mental and emotional sense. Just by nature of being in a foreign environment everyday, I found myself extremely tired at the end of most days. If I didn’t take time to rest, rejuvenate, and care for myself, then I would find myself completely exhausted at the end of a couple of weeks. And exhausted, I couldn’t interact with people and do the things I loved just because I didn’t have the energy and mental capacity.
Once I started to exercise self-care, setting time aside to unwind and focus on myself, I found that I could actually do more and do it better. The habit of self-care, which was a necessity abroad, has become a regular, healthy part of my routine back in the US.
While being abroad, I’ve been able to have so many cool and unique experiences and try new food and new activities for the first time. In France, I skied for the first time. In Andorra, I tried fresh snails and fois gras (honestly, it’s probably better if you don’t know what that is ? ).
I also got to ice skate in Geneva, ski in the French Alps, pay my respects to the American cemetery at Omaha beach, swim in the Mediterranean, walk on a volcano in Santorini, lie on the beaches of Monte Carlo, and even catch sight of the Pope in Italy. All of these experiences I never would have had unless I dared to try something new, but it’s these little things that really made my experiences abroad unforgettable.
There are small things like spicy food and restaurants open all day that I took for granted before I went abroad. But after living without those things for an extended period of time, I thank God for the little things. In the same way, I am so much more grateful for my loving family, my friendships, and my church community. These are things that I will never take for granted again.
Before I went abroad, I was a control-freak in denial. Honestly, I was Monica Geller from Friends in most areas of my life; I wanted things done a certain way (my way) and was extremely rigid on those things. But after spending time abroad, God did a miracle in me by wrenching away everything that I thought that I could control.
After a series of French strikes that grounded me in my apartment, travel plans gone awry at the last minute, and unexplainable grading rubrics, if I wanted to survive France, I had to set my need-to-control aside. Instead of relying on myself to make everything perfect, I had to just pray and trust that God had everything in control.
Since my time abroad, I’ve actually been able to find more peace by letting go of control and giving it all to God.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
Before I went abroad, I had been trying to get into a regular cadence of spending time with God daily. And while I had gotten pretty close before jetting off to France, I didn’t really achieve it until I was there. Why?
Being abroad really exposed my human limits in a way that I’d never seen before. Away from family and the church community that usually supported me, my relationship with God really fell on my shoulders. At first, I struggled to maintain and grow my relationship with Christ and as a result, I couldn’t rely on God’s strength or peace to equip me to face the challenges ahead.
But in the struggle, I recognized my feebleness without God. I came to genuinely crave His Word and time with Him, and that desire still fuels my heart today as I’ve accepted my weakness and declare:
I need God daily.
These count as benefits of studying abroad and benefits of living abroad, too. If you’re living in another country, chances are you’ll see these perks!
This one may not be as unconventional as reasons 17 and 18 below, but it is definitely worth mentioning on this list. I speak specifically for Europe when I say that once you are over there, it is extremely cheap to move around thanks to a lot of competition and a lot of budget airlines (assuming your suitcase is small enough to fit their stringent requirements ?). Because of the cheap transportation and plethora of public transportation, it was super easy, affordable, and safe to get around. So even though I went to study abroad and work abroad in one specific country, I was able to visit and experience many different countries and cultures.
So this wasn’t an actual reason that I went abroad, but now that I have a passport, I do appreciate the convenience. When you have to show proof of eligibility for employment, it’s the only document you need. Just an added bonus in my opinion. ?
If you’re someone who enjoys challenges or is a thrill-seeker, living abroad or studying abroad might be for you. When you live abroad, every time you step out your door, there is a new experience, a new challenge, something that will surprise you or stimulate you. This is what I missed the most when I came back to the US and back to “normal”. I missed that excitement & thrill that comes from the unknown and inherent challenges of living abroad which I was stimulated by daily. One of the benefits of living abroad is the thrill.
What were the benefits of studying abroad or working abroad for you?
Leave a comment below about your experiences abroad! What have you found to be some of the perks or benefits of living abroad? Are there any personal, spiritual, or unconventional perks that you would add to my list?
Make sure you catch the first half of this list in Perks and Benefits of Living Abroad (Honest & True) Part 1!
If I’ve convinced you and you’re interested in studying abroad or working abroad, check out this post about the real reason I decided to study abroad in college and this post about applying to the Fulbright program. Fulbright is a way for recent college graduates to be working and living abroad as a student, researcher, or teaching assistant.
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