Moving to another country is a huge, scary, life-changing leap. Moving to another country alone is even bigger, scarier, and more life-changing. You will leave behind everyone you love, and that simple comfort of having friends and family only a short car ride away. You will leave behind everything you’ve grown to know, and begin to grow into new cultures and traditions. In doing all this, you will learn to be truly self reliant and independent. Maybe you found an amazing job opportunity in another country, maybe you want to go to school abroad, or maybe you just want to get out and explore. Whatever the reason, moving abroad alone is sure to change your life for the better. Here are the five biggest benefits I’ve experienced from my recent move abroad:
1. You will gain a new perspective.
No matter where you move, you can’t escape yourself. However, you certainly can gain new perspective on your life. Seeing new parts of the world forces you to realize just how little of it you actually occupy. Your problems will feel so much smaller in the grand scheme of things. There is so much in this world that is more important than your friend’s betrayal or your ex’s new girlfriend. Every place you travel to will be unbelievably older than America, and this will give you a whole new sense of time. You will realize how young you are, and how much more life lays ahead of you. Let the beauty and history occupy the places in your mind that were once occupied by petty anger or jealousy. Being alone in an unknown place forces you to take a step back and reevaluate. When you are partially removed from your life back home you can take a look at everything from the outside, and see things quite differently.
2. As the great Ellie Goulding so beautifully sang, anything can happen.
You have the freedom to make this journey entirely your own. You are in a place where no one knows you or stories of your past. No one here knows that you peed your pants in the cafeteria in 2nd grade. No one here remembers the unibrow and acne that made a home on your face in middle school. No one here saw you cry after too much cookie dough flavored vodka on your 21st birthday. Embrace that. Recreate yourself. If you always wanted to be more outgoing or more daring or more laid back, this is your opportunity. You’re the author of this new chapter. You can be who you want to be, and do what you want to do. Write your own character, create your own story, and go live it.
3. You’ll meet amazing people.
When you are traveling alone, you tend to converse with locals and other solo travelers more than you would if you were traveling in a group. If you listen, everyone has a story to tell and something important to teach you. If you open your mind and your heart to others, you’ll be amazed what you’ll find. You’ll meet some interesting characters who are just making a cameo in the story of your life, and you’ll make lifelong friends with people from all over the world. You’ll learn what country has the craziest holiday traditions, and you’ll attempt to teach others why we celebrate Thanksgiving. You’ll share shockingly similar childhood stories. You’ll bond over movie stars and wacky travel stories. As you’re discovering how vast and infinite this world is, you will also discover how small it is. It will fascinate you how much you have in common with someone who came from such an entirely different background.
4. The world will become your teacher.
You will learn a lot more about the world while you’re out exploring it than you ever could in a classroom or from a book. You will learn and adopt the traditions of your new country. You will learn how other countries view worldwide historical events. You will learn how other countries view America. You will realize how sheltered and biased your education was. You’ll begin to question things you always took for granted. You will be immersed in a whole new world, and it will provide you with new views and information. The world has a lot to teach you, be open to the lessons.
5. You will become your own best friend.
Being alone in an unknown place among unknown people will require you to trust yourself, know yourself, challenge yourself, and often, entertain yourself. You will become your own best friend. When you are lost in a city where no one else speaks your language, you learn to rely on yourself, to be confident in yourself, and to be proud of yourself. Every aspect of moving abroad alone will challenge you. It’s not for everyone but if you make it through, you’ll make it through with a greater sense of self than you went in with. You will understand who you are, where you came from, and where you fit in with the world. You will learn your capabilities and limits, your strengths and weaknesses. You will make a million memories that are yours and yours alone. It’s your life, it’s your move, it’s your journey.
Originally published here.