7 Reasons Why Every Australian Should Live Abroad At Least Once
They say life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
The term #digitalnomad is thrown around a lot nowadays. They’re those people who work remotely while living abroad, allowing them to travel forever without running out of money. Radhika Basuthakur from blog Fulltime Nomad is one of those people, so who better than her to argue the benefits of dedicating a part of your life to living overseas?
Almost nine years ago, I moved from India to Australia. Two years ago, I left Australia to give the “live and work anywhere” lifestyle a shot. Since then, I’ve lived in completely foreign cultures like Colombia, Mexico and Vietnam (among several others). Living abroad has changed the way I travel but it has also completely changed my life.
Here are seven reasons why every Australian should live abroad at least once in their lives.
#1 Live Like A Local
There’s no better way to understand a foreign culture than by actually living and breathing in it. No matter how much the tout tells you they will show you the real or authentic side of a country, you will never experience it on a tour.
Living abroad forces you to travel slow, taking in the all of the sights, sounds, smells and idiosyncrasies of a place. You don’t just do the “must-do” sights. You reject the Trip Advisor recommendations in favour of the local-recommended eateries. You make friends with locals and don’t just spend all your time hanging out with other foreigners from your hostel.
When you can speak in the local language (even in a broken way), your friendship circle also widens. You’re no longer hanging out with English-speaking expats alone, you can actually make local friends.
Also, this totally goes against all stranger-danger advice, but I am a huge fan of talking to friendly strangers overseas – especially outside of the usual tourist areas. You can learn so much about a culture from just talking to its people. Being able to communicate in Spanish in Latin America, for example, has helped me have some very interesting conversations with random locals such as taxi drivers, teenagers in a park and even old ladies on the bus.
#4 Get To Know Yourself
Getting out of your comfort zone and planting yourself somewhere completely unfamiliar teaches you just as much about yourself as it does about the world. You get to know this new version of you that starts to emerge when you leave home.
Finding a place to live, making new friends, adjusting to a new work environment and a completely foreign culture will seem challenging at first, but it will force you to grow and you’ll probably surprise yourself with your ability to adapt and cope.
Your new surroundings and the people you meet will probably bring out a different side to your personality. Not knowing anyone in your new home can sometimes be very liberating. You’ll discover new tastes, skills, dislikes and fears. You may also start doing things differently, and enjoy it. In Australia, my Sundays were often about chores and maximising every second of my time to plan for the work week ahead. Living in Latin America taught me to slow play my Sundays, to truly enjoy the day of rest and put my life before my work. Monday is going to come either way, right?
#5 Fall In Love
Living in a new country opens your world up to a whole new social circle, and new friends could even mean a potential new romantic interest. It’s not uncommon for Australians to move halfway across the world and find the love of their life. Even if it’s not forever, you could learn a lot from dating a local.
#6 Build Your CV
What sets you apart from the thousands of other job seekers going for the same role as you? Your grades, your uni degree and any relevant work experience are all valuable, sure, but who says Sally next door hasn’t got the exact same experience?
Travel and living overseas can teach you many new practical skills such as the ability to adapt to new surroundings, being comfortable outside your comfort zone and even being able to cope in chaotic circumstances. Employers value life skills and practical experience in the workplace and your overseas stint may just be what helps your resume stand out in a crowd.
#7 Change Your Perspective
Your time abroad will widen and change your perspectives as your mind expands to accommodate the new things you experience and possibly even new ways of thinking. People naturally become less intimidating, less foreign and less stereotypical. You start to view people as just people.
You see yourself, the world and Australia in a whole new light. You may also find yourself developing some strong opinions about what it is that you love (and what could improve) about the Australian way of life. You come to admire other ways of living and you realise the definition of “normal” is variable.
Bonus Reason: Because It’s Not Australia
Seriously, that’s a reason! Australia is a beautiful place to live in but it’s also pretty damn amazing to open your mind to a new culture just because it’s different to home. Get out into the world and see how other people live, love, eat, work, and go about their daily lives. Your time abroad, far away from the familiarities of home, will be a great life-lesson. You may even come back with a deeper appreciation for the many Australian privileges you take for granted.
Want to know how it’s done? Click through to the next page for some tips on how to make living abroad possible.