Living and working abroad

5 ways living and working abroad changes you

Spending time away from your home country changes you. And these changes when living and working abroad come on many levels, from skills to personality traits even.

living and working abroad
123rf.com/ Sergey Skripnikov

Moving to a new country and starting a job there always comes with challenges, and you have to be prepared, focused and determined to face all of them. But it’s not just about all the work and effort you put in, but also about what you get out of it – new values and skills, all of which are for life! Everyone who has ever moved to another country, has different stories and takes on it, but there is one thing on which every expat or former expat agrees: living and working abroad changes you. And the changes come on many levels, from skills to personality traits even. With a little reflection you can use all these changes to generally be a better you, in your work- and personal life as well. So let’s see five of them!

1 – Knowledge

This one is pretty obvious, right? You already gather lots of knowledge even before moving to your target country, when you are still in the research phase. But then you learn even more as you start your new life there. Each day you learn something new about the culture in your host country: from traditional dishes to etiquette rules there is really no limit to the new things you can learn and get acquainted with. And you know what they say: knowledge is power. Once you know something, you cannot un-know it, so it’s up to you to put it to a good use!

2 – Language

Not everyone decides to learn the language of the host country when living and working abroad, especially if they don’t plan on staying there for long. But learning a new language is always a great idea, no matter the situation. Both science and common sense constantly prove that language learning is one of the best things that can happen to your brain. Besides the practical advantage of getting to communicate with your business partners and colleagues in their own language, there are many other ways learning a language makes you a better person. It makes you more open-minded, tolerant, and creative, just to name a few. And it also helps you develop logical and systematic thinking. From a scientific point of view, language learning is like a major motivation for your brain to do more and better. With learning a new language you keep your brain active, and just as a body that is kept fit, a fit brain is less likely to decline with age.

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3 – Creativity

We already mentioned that learning a new language makes you more creative. No wonder: it not only opens you up towards a new culture, but a new way of thinking as well! Different languages have different logics behind them, all deeply shaped by culture, with which you inevitably get in contact, and eventually get the feeling of. Chances are that while learning a new language, you will experience a different kind of thinking than the one you are used to. It makes you think outside the box, which is basically creativity 101. Becoming more open and creative is yet again something no one can take away from you when living and working abroad, and once you have it, it’s not likely you can really un-have it.

4 – Experience

Experience, just like knowledge, is power. The more you have seen and lived through, the more set you are to face the many challenges of being human in general. Having lived in different cultures than your own, having experienced different kinds of everyday scenarios that you were used to will all help you become stronger and more confident. Experience is also something that has a powerful way of changing you, and again something that is entirely up to you to turn into powerful skills. And moving somewhere new will provide you with plenty of it!

5 – You see your culture with new eyes

Another great gain of experiencing living and working abroad is getting a new perspective on your own one. Perhaps you have been living all your life in the comfort zone of your own surroundings, not really thinking about how things that are the norm for you might be just one way of living, amongst countless others. When you move to a new place and face new norms each day, then you will get to look at your your own habits from the outside, when you inevitably start comparing them to the ones you are just getting to know. Looking at your culture from the outside is of great help in understanding both yourself and others. It means taking a step back, and putting some distance between yourself and all the habits, norms, and expectations that shaped who you are as a person.

Eszter Szűcs-Imre

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At a glance

  • Each day you learn something new about the culture in your host country. And knowledge is power!
  • Learning a new language is like a major motivation for your brain to do more and better.
  • You will experience a different kind of thinking than the one you are used to. It makes you think outside the box.
  • Having lived and worked abroad, having experienced different everyday scenarios will make you stronger and more confident.
  • Looking at your culture from the outside is of great help in understanding both yourself and others.