Things you cannot help but learn travelling abroad
Today I want to talk about something that I have noticed increasingly over the last few years. It is common knowledge now that going abroad changes you. It broadens your horizons so to speak, you can expand your mind in ways you’ve never imagined and experience things you never thought you could see or do. In fact I think in the technology age, travelling is the new reading. I have lived in three places now China, Taiwan and Korea and every new city brings an entirely different life experience.
“You cannot open a book without learning something.”
This quote I think can now be applied to travel, it’s impossible not to learn something new when you travel. However, I don’t just mean a holiday on a sunny beach. I mean going somewhere and seriously exploring the culture. It can be for a day, a week or a month but if you push yourself to see a new land I think you can always take away something with you. It could be a love of a new dish you never thought you’d like, a bit of information, culture or new friends.
This one sounds pretty common but it is often overlooked. You tend to pick up a few phrases in the local language when you are travelling around, especially if you are on your own. This is great because languages are intrinsically linked to cultures and just learning simple words like please and thank you means you are absorbing a small part of someone’s culture.
For me, since learning Korean and Chinese I find my brain works differently to how it used to. I think in different ways and I feel as though I’m exercising a completely different part of my brain when I speak Asian languages. (It can be a bit of a headache quite literally at times). This helps me see the world in another light as many Chinese or Korean words actually reflect an alternative world view to the one we have in the west. There are so many concepts or sayings that exist only in Chinese for example and I have a hard time explaining these to non-Chinese speaking friends.
2. Challenging yourself
You never know what you can achieve until you are challenged. If you challenge yourself I believe you will come away from it a changed person. Forcing yourself to try something new that you would not normally do in your home country gives you a sense of courage which sometimes you never knew you had. I know people who have tried paragliding, sky diving, bungee jumping, eating live octopus… and many more just simply because a change of scene makes them believe they can do anything. Living abroad now, I too am braver than I thought I could ever be.
3. International friends.
Currently on my Facebook I think I have someone from nearly every continent on the planet (Not Antarctica) on my feed. I have met so many amazing people from all over the world having lived abroad for so long now. Sharing live experiences and stories with people from across the globe is I think the most rewarding thing about living abroad. Your new best friend could be from a country you never thought you would ever visit and now you have a great reason to go there. Speaking to new people you can learn so much, it is really humbling and insightful. Someone else’s life story maybe the very thing that inspires you. Having foreign friends makes your life that bit more colourful.
4. Open Minded-ness
Again, similar with having friends from all over the world, living abroad challenges the views that maybe exist within your own society and not in others. It can be regarding politics, music, or religion but having friends from other countries and living abroad causes you to question what you have always thought was the norm. Maybe you always assumed there was only one right way to do things and suddenly in this new country they do things differently to how you expect. Roll up your sleeves and go along with it. It may be that you realise new ways and ideas. I have personally learned not to be judgemental of others since living abroad. Since, if you want to make friends abroad it helps to give everyone a chance and not judge people based off any preconceived notions you may have.
This is also similar to challenging yourself but I believe living somewhere new gives you a confidence within yourself. You learn how to talk to new people, how to support yourself, how to order food in a foreign language. You have to survive on your own so you learn to adapt. In doing so you grow as a person and gain confidence with practice. The results might not seem apparent straight away but when you return home and relate your stories to friends it may hit you that you have really changed. If you did challenge yourself, make friends, just even exist in a foreign land; that is a privilege that not many get to experience. Sometimes even knowledge of this makes you feel confident in yourself. A sense of accomplishment just for yourself to hold on to when you return home.
There are many more things you can gain and experience living abroad. My list could go on forever but I think these are the 5 biggest changes I have noticed in myself over the last few years. I’d recommend going abroad and seeing the world even if only for a little while. “You cannot go travelling without learning something”.