Almost everyone dreams of traveling abroad at some point in their lives. I remember graduating high school and it being the norm that either you “finish high school, take a year off to travel and then start university” or “finish high school and head straight into university”.
Mine was the latter. The desire to travel and see the world, get familiar with new cultures and places, remained with me until after I graduated. For some, traveling after university isn’t an option, either. If you have student loans or want to establish yourself in a career you’re going to need to start working.
But, there is a road less traveled if you want to work AND travel: working abroad.
When you decide to move abroad for work that sense of excitement paired with a fear of the unknown still resides and is a little bit amplified because you don’t have a return ticket booked. It takes a certain type of person to make this leap and is a chance not everyone is willing to take. But there is something to be said for those that do it.
I took that exact leap 11 years ago when I uprooted my life and moved to a tiny island in paradise, the Cayman Islands. I found that once I moved, the friends I made and the people I met were all of a similar mindset.
Experiencing life abroad removed me from the comfort zone of my old friends and family. Bringing out an experience in my life that forever changed and benefitted me. No matter where you are on your professional journey, living or working abroad can help jump-start your career in a number of ways and simultaneously advance you in other areas of your life.
When you’re not afraid to jump out of your comfort zone you become able to change and grow. It speaks volumes to your character and your self-motivation.
Working abroad might just have been one of the best career moves for me. Here are five reasons why:
1. You’ll learn how to become independent, quick.
Living in a new country, you will be forced to find your way around an unfamiliar environment and start relying on yourself. This is something that we often take for granted when we have grown up in the same city all our lives. We become comfortable, complacent, and know how to rely on others for certain needs. For most, this new found independence will be quite liberating.
Sometimes we don’t see how well we can adapt to new situations until we are dropped into them.
2. Your problem-solving skills will be put to the test.
It’s in our nature to figure out the environment and create a new comfort zone as quickly as possible. Moving abroad will encourage you to put on that problem-solving cap and decipher an entirely new culture and social setting. You might even learn something about the culture you left behind or question the things you had always taken for granted. All while channeling your inner detective.
3. You will mature.
One thing employer’s value in young professionals is maturity. Learning how to adapt to an unfamiliar environment and what rules apply, encourages one to become mature quickly. Lifestyles vary from country to country and there is no better way to learn and adapt then to understand a culture by living in it.
4. What doesn’t challenge you, won’t change you.
Moving abroad takes a lot of courage. It takes research, planning, commitment, and dedication. When you realize that you can take on something as challenging as this, you’ll have the confidence to take on anything! From the standpoint of an employer, the guts to take on a challenge holds a lot of merit to your character and you will be able to walk into any interview and get the job.
5. You become more captivating.
There is something to be said about those living abroad. When you come back home or share your life via social media, you are able to share interesting stories and experiences. Everyone around you becomes attracted to your charisma and you become richer for being able to share those experiences.
6. You will make some pretty cool connections.
Living and working abroad, you surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Making connections you might not have if you were living back home. Your new work environment, hobbies, and chance encounters open the door to SO many more opportunities to meet people from a wide range of cultures and experiences that can make you a deeper person.
Over the course of my time living abroad, the connections and opportunities that I have had even just being on a small island would never have happened if I was living back home. These international friends make my life even more fulfilling. And when you do have itchy feet, you have a roster of people around the world that you can go visit.
(When you decide to go traveling here are some great hacks for you to travel on a budget!)
Experiencing life abroad, whether you are traveling or working, challenges you to become resourceful and resilient. Resulting in you becoming a more competent and confident person.
Moving abroad for work is not for everyone but for myself and almost all of the expats I have met, it’s a choice they would make again and again. For many of us, it has opened up personal and professional opportunities that would otherwise not have been available.
Maybe it’s time for you to book that plane ticket….Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.