In a world so connected by technology, distances may seem smaller than they did a few decades ago. Moving to a different country or even a different continent is something that is becoming increasingly common, especially amongst younger generations. This may be for study, for work or just for leisure. However, such a big move is usually not all roses, so we put together a list of pros and cons of living abroad.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of living abroad?
Moving to a foreign country is the most intense way of getting to know a different culture. It is an immersive experience where you step out of the comfort zone of your home and dive into new customs, habits and language. It might sound overwhelming at first, so let’s start with the best things this experience overseas might bring.
Pros of living abroad
Explore a different culture
When moving to a foreign country, you will most likely be inserted in a place that is culturally very different from what you are used to. This can be seen in several ways: the architecture of the buildings, the way that people interact with each other or even social gatherings. Enjoy this opportunity to really get to know and embrace this new environment with all it has to offer.
Meet new people
Even though in the beginning it may seem difficult to make new friends, this is one of the greatest advantages of living abroad. While at home, it is easy to often find yourself surrounded by likeminded people (and there is nothing wrong about that), moving to a different country is the perfect opportunity to open up your mind and talk to people who have different ideas and life stories.
Try using this experience abroad to connect with locals and other expats. Taking gym classes, signing up for events of the student union or hanging out with co-workers are great ways of getting started. Maybe in the end you will end up having friends from all over the world.
Gather a collection of travel stories
It is easy to fall into a routine while being at home. Study, work, groceries, workout. The excitement of trying new things and exploring new places might be saved just for vacations or holidays.
However, when you move to a foreign country where everything is new… that is when the magic happens. Even the simplest tasks can be exciting. Try a local dish, hop on a bus to visit the next city or book a weekend trip to somewhere you have never been before.
Building up your soft skills
Having an experience of living abroad can be very useful when looking for a job. Most companies value international experiences, even if they were for leisure or study. When a person steps out of their comfort zone and moves to another country, there is always an improvement in their communication skills, social skills and networking. You also learn how to relate to people from different cultural backgrounds and respect divergent opinions. These are all highly valuable attributes in a work environment.
Cons of living abroad
When someone moves to a new country, the first few months can be considered as an adaptation period. This is when people face most of the challenges of living abroad. In order to help with the transition, here are a few tips on how to make the best of each situation.
Dealing with a culture shock
Some people might have a culture shock when being immersed in a completely different country. It takes some time to get used to such a new environment, but some take it easier than others. The best thing to do when you feel the culture shock while living abroad is to try to connect with things that make you feel comfortable. Great ideas for doing so is to cook a homemade recipe, practice sports or read your favourite book.
Bureaucracy when living abroad
Finding a new apartment, negotiating rental agreement, setting up a bank account and arranging health insurance are some of the bureaucracy steps everyone needs to go through when moving abroad. It might be stressful, but these are usually done only once. To make the transition smoother, you can study online about these procedures in your new country or try to get in contact with other expats who have been through the same.
Financial challenges of living abroad
Finances is always a big topic when it comes to the disadvantages of living abroad, especially for people who move to a new country for work purposes. After moving, you need to become familiar with a totally new financial system. Some things to be aware of are currency conversions (if applicable), how the tax system works and what paperwork you need to arrange.
Feeling like the “new kid on the block”
It might take a while until you make life-long friends in your new country. Relationships are built with time and there are some cultures where people are more private than others. Even though this is completely normal, some might end up feeling lonely or homesick. The best way to avoid this is to get involved in classes, courses or activities where you can socialize and have fun.
Figuring out how to deal with homesickness
Homesickness is something everyone living abroad feels every now and then. It might be because you miss your friends, your family or that special homecooked meal. Unfortunately, it is something each of us feels differently and, therefore, there is no secret formula on how to deal with homesickness.
A good idea is trying to find little things that remind you of home and insert them into your routine. Here are a few suggestions: do weekly video chats with your family, create a blog where you share about your new life so they can easily keep in touch or ask for your grandmother for that special cake recipe so you can make it yourself.
Overall, living abroad is a very rewarding experience and you will come back to your loved ones filled with new adventures and stories to tell.
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Last modified: October 30, 2019