Going abroad will change you. The transformation from the person you were to the person you will become is inescapable once you step outside your comfort zone. You’ll experience life in a different latitude and longitude, and the location shift will, in turn, shift your perspective.
How can you expect to change when you go abroad? Read on for the seven ways going abroad will change you.
1. You’ll feel like a foreigner.
Even when we don’t necessarily feel like we fit in in our home country, it is still home, and there’s a comfort in knowing you belong there. When you leave home for a different culture, perspective, and/or language, you will, most definitely, feel like an outsider for a while. You may look different: your height, your style of dress, or the way you carry yourself doesn’t fit in with the way the locals look. You’ll be speaking the language (if you speak it) with an accent and you’ll make mistakes. Feeling like an outsider is uncomfortable. The beautiful thing about going abroad, though, is that you can and will change. You’ll adjust, and one day you’ll realize that you fit in where once you didn’t.
2. You’ll feel like a toddler.
Everything will be new, and shiny, and captivating. Everything will also be new, and intimidating, and scary. Experiencing the wider world for the first time is exhilarating. It’s also exhausting and stressful. Expect to have high highs – all the joy and wonder at being away from home – and low lows – all the frustration of the unknown and the headaches and misunderstandings that arise.
3. You’ll begin to think of yourself as a global citizen, not just a citizen of your home country.
When we’re only reading and hearing news and stories from our home country, from people who are communicating from a similar cultural landscape, it can be easy to place your home culture at the center of the universe. Getting to know real, live people in your temporary home forces a shift in the way you view your country’s place in the global community.
4. You’re joining a tribe of international travelers.
No matter where you go, you’ll meet others who’ve traveled abroad, and you’ll feel an immediate kinship with them. You’ll know that here is another human who has traveled the same path and overcome the same challenges, and you’ll value that relationship and connection.
5. When you return, you’ll miss the food.
Even if you didn’t care for it at first, your palette will adjust and the new flavors will become the norm. You’ll miss those simple, everyday dishes you had in your temporary home abroad, and you’ll wonder how anyone can possibly eat [insert ordinary-to-your-home-country food].
6. When you return, your home country will seem alien.
In your home country, you could expect the people to – in general – behave in a particular way, you knew what your meals would look like, and while you might not have liked everything about your sphere, it was familiar and comfortable. You’ll acquire that same comfort in your new temporary home, and when you return, you’ll realize that some of the things your friends and neighbors do are pretty weird.
7. You’ll be more confident.
You’ll probably get lost in your temporary new home. You may not be fluent in the language and you’ll have to navigate a strange city using your wits (and potentially the GPS on your smart phone). It might be terrifying, but you’ll be forced to rely on yourself, and coming through that kind of experience will make you feel like a superhero, like you can tackle anything that comes your way.
That “superhero sense” is the most common theme for returning World Endeavors participants. “I feel more confident.” “I feel like I can talk to anyone now, and before I was so shy and nervous.” “I know that I can rely on myself now because I went abroad.”