6 Ways Living Abroad Changed My Life Forever

Emilie Barbier
Emilie Barbier

I spent too many years dreaming of traveling and waiting for someone to venture with me. Senior year of university, sick of waiting, I applied to study abroad on a whim and three months later I boarded a plane to live in a country where I didn’t know a single person and that spoke a language I barely understood. That trip was the single most life changing experience in my twenty-five years on this planet. It changed my world in so many ways and taught me what I really wanted out of life and how to get it.

I still struggle with feeling selfish for loving my life abroad so much, but the reality is that it allows me to be the best version of myself. It’s instilled in me this overwhelming sense of euphoria that radiates from my being. I know this because I attract beautiful, electrifying people. Maybe living abroad isn’t for everyone, but I think if we all spent a significant amount of time submersed in a foreign culture the world would be a significantly better place.

1. It introduced me to myself.

I wish I had backpacked some countries before I decided to study a degree in Sociology. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted to do with this degree, but moving abroad made me realize my love for languages, writing, and meeting new people. I would have studied journalism.

2. It gave me a sense of accomplishment.

Before leaving home, I had a constant sense that I was a victim of less than favorable circumstances that I couldn’t change, but leaving and living a different way of life abroad taught me that we are not victims and can change our situation if we have the courage to. Life doesn’t happen to you, you make life happen.

3. The conversations I have are different.

Instead of egocentric based conversations, they’re inspired by curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. We don’t talk about what that bitch from high school is doing, because we don’t care. That isn’t in our world anymore. We’re focused on the future, progression, and imagination. I learned so much about traveling and other parts of the world from meeting travelers and locals along my journey and I ended up in unexpected, incredible destinations because of this.

4. I stopped letting people affect my choices.

The reason my conversations changed is because I changed who I was with. I think living where you grew up or spent the majority of your life limits you by your past. I was spending a lot of time with people I had been friends with from my childhood before I really knew who I was. I felt obligated to give my time to them even though I wasn’t inspired or learning from them- not because they are bad people but because in our adulthood we have different ideas about our futures.

5. I was exposed to new norms and lifestyles.

This is the one that keeps me coming back for more. I’m back in the country I studied in, going on my second year living in the capital. In New York, I work to live and live to work. Time to travel? Yeah, right. I felt so stuck in a life I wasn’t excited to wake up and live. I have so much more time to do things I love and enjoy in Spain. I’m mentally and physically healthier because of it. I’m not saying this is the life for you, but leaving home let me venture and see another way of life that I just happened to like a lot more.

6. My relationship with my family improved immensely.

I didn’t have the best relationship when I lived with my family, we even fought regularly after I moved out. But the fact that they aren’t a five minute drive makes our time together much more precious. I actually look forward to seeing them now, and it’s much easier for me to accept who they are when I don’t have to see them every day. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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