For the third week in a row, we have been doing this series of posts about some stereotypes regarding living abroad. After going through the first and second part, here we present you the final 4 lies you should be aware of at the time of making a decision that will change your life a lot. For good or bad, it is nice to keep some of this information in mind, in the given time it may make a big difference!
4 – Making friends abroad will be easy. Having so many friends in AIESEC, I can’t count the times people told me about the amazing friendships they made when they were abroad. The truth of the matter is that being far away from everything that’s familiar to you isn’t easy, and you’ll need to create a new support system to get through it. Luckily enough, there are tons of people that are in that exact same position, right? Although rough times do bring people together, finding real, long-lasting friendships will take time, effort and a hint of luck.
3 – Living abroad leads to endless traveling. Now that you’re closer to new and unexplored territories it’s only natural to want to travel. Still, you may want to keep your traveling plans to realistic scenarios. Unless you are an extremely care-free person, even small trips will require a bit of planning, organizing and budgeting. And of course, time to actually enjoy the trip. This may be tricky depending on your monthly budget and main activities (work, studies) and the agreements you’ve reached beforehand. Additionally, adapting to your new lifestyle, including fitting into a different work culture, rebuilding your social life and dealing with unexpected responsibilities can take a toll on your motivation and energy level. At some point, a weekend of taking the night bus to another city, eating a combined breakfast/lunch at McDonald’s, spending the night on the town and walking around the city until your shoes melt down may not match your initial idea of “ideal travel” anymore.
2 – You’ll feel more alive than ever before. Well, not always. When you’re abroad, everything (and yes, I mean everything) will come with a slight twist. I’ve had several friends tell me that this is exactly what made them feel more alive; they were more inclined to take risks, be more adventurous or fall in love faster than they would back at home. The common denominator? Most of these friends spent relatively short periods of time abroad (under 3 months in the same place). Knowing that your stay will be so short can motivate you to be more proactive in your experiences and, to a certain extent, reduce your accountability for the consequences. However, longer stays may not be so fortunate. The more you adjust to your new routine, the more likely you are to find these little details less energizing.
1 – Once you live abroad you’ll have it all figured out. Some people see living abroad as a way to “find oneself” and figure out what they want in life. To them I would say that, although this experience can give you some perspective and will definitely help you discover some things about yourself that you had absolutely no clue about, living abroad will not give you the answers you are looking for. In fact, living abroad may even make things more complicated. I’m not saying that it won’t help at all or that you can’t figure this out to some extent while you’re abroad, but rather that, technically, you could make just as much progress by sitting down in your home town and taking time to ask yourself some important questions (and give yourself some honest answers)
Despite all this, living abroad is an incredibly valuable experience. If you are planning to pack up and go somewhere new, don’t let any of this stop you! The biggest enemies of great opportunities are unrealistic expectations. So stay grounded, think positive, and keep your loved ones as close as technology will allow. As for us, we’ll be waiting for your list of amazing things nobody tells you about living abroad!
Until next time!