Living abroad is an incredible experience in life and not one everyone gets to do. You get to showcase your triumphs and fail. The good thing about this is that you learn from it and you never forget that chapter in life. More often than not, you can look back and say, “Yeah, I totally lived (insert country here).” Being an expat is no easy feat and comes with it’s own trials; however the reward is so much better than the suffering. Living abroad is amazing and here’s 10 reasons you should live abroad when you’re young.
1. To see how the rest of the world views your country
This can be a huge eye opening experience for many. You can hear about all the negative and positive traits your country portrays to the rest of the world. It’s also quite possible to hear what people think they know or are completely unaware of.
It wasn’t until I landed in Okinawa I was truly able to see how some Japanese citizens view my country. While some Okinawans love Americans and romanticize America, others don’t share the same sentiment. I’ve heard things like, “stop being the world police” or “get out of Okinawa, you don’t belong here” and even some extreme things like, “Fuck Americans.”
2.To appreciate your home country
I never appreciated small things my country had to offer like tortillas, skinny jeans that fit, and health care. It wasn’t until I had multiple bad run ins with five different doctors I learned to appreciate what I had taken for granted. In Japan, I’m “fat” and have to shop at the Super Large store. It’s the little things from back home you appreciate when you can’t acquire it easily.
3. To learn bureaucracy in a different language
Americans invented bureaucracy but the Japanese perfected it. I can’t believe how much paper is wasted just to prove something. I honestly get confused how they keep track of so much paperwork.
4. All the cool stamps to go on your passport
Imagine the feeling of opening up your passport to proudly display all the places you’ve ventured. Instant bragging rights. Thanks to my travels, I’ve been to 10 countries. Never in my life did I think I would travel around Asia, but I did and I can proudly display I have.
5. To fill your journal, blog, or social media with memories
Think about it. When you’re old you can look back at your life with happiness and accomplishment. Think of the pictures your children or grandchildren or even great grandchildren will stumble upon when they see pictures of your travels. Who knows, you might inspire them to recreate some of your memories and pictures.
6. To learn a new instrument
Some countries have their own instruments unique to their culture. If you love music and are inclined to learn something new, then you should definitely try this. Mainland Japan has the samisen and Okinawa has the sanshin. I’ve always loved music, but never did I imagine I would pick up a three stringed, snake skinned banjo as my first instrument. Try something new. You might be surprised how much you like it.
7. You get creative
You’re faced with a problem in your new country and you don’t know what to do… Crap. Instead of freaking out, you learn to calmly asses the problem and quickly brainstorm all possible solutions. Sometimes you might even surprise yourself with the ability to be creative when it comes to the nitty gritty. Once you’ve been there and climbed over that threshold, every problem after seems trivial in comparison.
8. You’ll form unforgettable friendships.
Some of my best friends have been made while I lived abroad. They say college gives you friends for life, but I beg to differ. Being in the same boat together helps people form bonds quickly. These shared experiences make people closer and grow together. You never know who you might be your best friend. My best friends ended up coming from different countries and backgrounds from I.
9. You meet interesting people.
Living abroad attracts all different kinds of people and especially when you travel. One time, as I was gnawing on Chicago style pizza for breakfast in Tokyo, I was approached by a Korean Russian. We spent the morning chit chatting and he told me some stories I have never forgotten.
10. It’ll change your life.
Living abroad makes you adaptable, more open minded, and more willing to comprise and accept things you cannot change. You become fully immersed in different ways of thinking, being, and interacting. Being young means you’re flexible and able to adapt to a new situation quickly. When you do return to your home country, you’ll realize you’ve become different, but in a good way.