1. You have to give something up.
Regardless of your relationships with your friends, family, and career, life at home won’t pause while you’re gone. If you’re studying abroad during the fall semester, no football tailgates for you. If you’re working a less-traditional job overseas, you might be putting your long-term career on hold. You may miss some birthday parties or holidays.
I’d love to say it’ll all be there when you come back (if you come back), but some of it might not be. Some friendships might dwindle. But for anything or anyone you do lose, you’ll have gained that much more confidence and independence. That many more friends and memories. Risks. Sacrifices. Some things are worth it.
2. You’ll have commitments like school or work.
It’s unlikely you’re going to reside in another country living Cabo Spring Break on replay. There’s this thing called “responsibility,” and it stalks us without borders. You’ll get a new routine going and learn to work with people outside of your comfort zone. It’s an unconventional resume builder. Your creative problem-solving strategies will increase.
3. You can truly explore a place.
You don’t have to select from the “Top Things to Do In XYZ” list — you can do them all. Take your time and do it right! Furthermore, an iconic landmark might become a part of your daily jogging path. You might pick up some local recipes. Or perhaps you’ll indulge in the nightlife, becoming a “regular.” You’ll be around long enough to enjoy seasonal celebrations, holidays, and sporting events.
4. You’ll get to know locals and other expats.
You’ll be forced to meet new friends. Some will come through work or school, others through a chat at the pub or metro stop. When we’re home, we aren’t necessarily looking for new close friends. Abroad, you’re more open-minded because few friends are physically present in your life. An active willingness to meet others will bring about new relationships.
5. You’ll learn to be alone.
Between finding somewhere to live, navigating a new city, and getting the hang of life abroad, it may take some time to establish intimate friendships. It’s inevitable you’ll spend time alone. Embrace it. Those moments of solitude will allow you to get to know yourself.
6. You’re going to be humbled by challenges. Then feel awesome when you overcome them.
You get lost. You get homesick. You struggle with a foreign language (or even just an accent — are we speaking the same English here, mate?). You deal with foreign exchange rates. All these ‘simple’ tasks can be so much harder when you live abroad.
As you struggle to master your new lifestyle, you’ll be making the same mistakes and dealing with the same s%#t over and over again. This can be frustrating. Gently remind yourself you’re not invincible. In the end, you’ll feel empowered by how much you can accomplish.
7. You’re going to learn about your own culture and other cultures, ultimately realizing there’s a lot you don’t know about the world.
There’s a whole globe out there, and you won’t realize how much you don’t know until you get out and see how other people live. You’ll find that some people do things differently. Not only will you learn to be okay with that, you’ll start to love these differences. If we were all the same, what would be the point of traveling?
8. You’re going to value the people closest to you at home and the complete strangers abroad who’ve become your best friends.
It takes so much effort to stay in contact with people at home that those who make the effort prove they really care about you. In your new city, being the outsider, you’ll rely on locals to aid your transition, and their selfless kinship will warm your heart. Turns out you can’t rely on everyone, but someone will always be there for you.
9. You’ll feel freer than you ever did at home.
You may find yourself liberated from your society’s expectations. You’ll learn to be yourself once you don’t have your home community’s pressures dictating the life you “should” be living. Sometimes you have to remove yourself from your norm to emancipate your innermost desires.
10. You’re going to be the one with the hot accent.
This post originally appeared at Travel Break and is republished here with permission.