Travel has a way of bringing great fulfilment to our lives. If you’ve ever traveled to another country, you’ve broadened your horizons somewhat already. You may have experienced a radically different culture in India. Your palate might have been treated to some tantalising Spanish tapas. Perhaps your eyes have feasted on grandiose architecture in Paris, or maybe your emotions have been awakened at historically significant sites in Poland. You might even have done all of the above.
But have you yet gained the biggest benefit that travel can offer?
If you haven’t spent an extended period overseas, I’d argue you haven’t; for this is a benefit only obtained by living and working in another country for an extended time.
What is that benefit?
True perspective takes time
You see, when we spend only days or weeks in a new place, a lot of our experience is superficial. We don’t get to know the inhabitants on a deeper level; we can’t truly understand the problems they struggle with on a daily basis and we can’t really learn from their world views.
By spending 6-12 months or more living and working in a new country, all of that changes. You’re no longer reading or hearing about their daily struggles; you’re living them. You start to understand the cultural and economic nuances that influence the way those people interact with one another and conduct their business. You yourself start to be shaped by the environment, assimilating all the best parts of that place and culture, fusing them with your own character.
So you think your politicians are bad
After growing up in South Africa, I first got the opportunity to experience a different world by working in Sweden for 6 months, while traveling around to different European cities every opportunity I got. Nowadays, I find myself living and working in Melbourne, Australia. There are many more traveled than me, but I already feel as though I’ve experienced so much. In terms of wealth and quality of life, Sweden and Australia are chasms ahead of South Africa. On the other hand, South Africans who grow up surrounded by crime, poverty, and corruption often possess innate fortitude and resilience which can be hard to come by in first-world countries where most kids want for nothing.
I can’t help but smile when I overhear strangers at my local coffee shop bemoaning the government for their failures. I’m always tempted by the irony of it all to interject with “you don’t know what bad politicians are until you’ve lived in a place where the politicians have brought the country to its knees through looting and corruption.”
But that wouldn’t solve anything. Those sorts of attitudes can only be solved by gaining real perspective.
Perspective is something that’s impossible to quantify, but I can guarantee that living overseas and gaining some perspective will improve your life in the long term.
Live overseas and enjoy these benefits of perspective
I always encourage my coachees to live overseas for a period of time if they can. The perspective you gain has so many sub-benefits that are invaluable and cannot be learned in a textbook or on YouTube. Some of these benefits:
- Value what you have – It’s very easy to take your lifestyle and your upbringing for granted. Experience life without the comforts of home and live the struggles of another culture to really understand how fortunate you are to have what you have.
- Build empathy – While we all tend to strive for empathy, I believe the best way to be more empathetic is through experience. By building connections with real people over an extended time, your mind is opened. Being closer to it increases our ability to more readily empathise with people.
- Form deeper relationships – if you take a look at your circle of close friends, it’s very likely that you’ll find most of them are cut from the same cloth. We build relationships more easily with those similar to us. By forcing ourselves out of our comfort zones in a new place, building relationships with people different from us becomes a necessity. The more we learn to do so, the more able we are to build better relationships with everyone – regardless of whether they are like us or not.
- Become a better business(wo)man – If you’re an entrepreneur at heart (like me) it’s fascinating to see how businesses operate in different places. Learning about why some things work in one place but not others is eye-opening. The experience is likely to make you more prone to identifying opportunities and understanding what is necessary to turn those opportunities into something successful.
Moving internationally is scary
While I know the benefits I’ve spoken about (and the many others I haven’t) are all very exciting, I also know that moving overseas is a daunting prospect.
When I moved to Australia, I knew exactly two people from a Topdeck tour I’d done in Europe. I was starting from scratch without the network, trust, and reputation I’d built up in South Africa. In doing so, I’ve learned many things along the way that I’ve become passionate about sharing with those of you who are embarking on this journey for the first time.
I’ve found myself giving the same advice to so many who I chat to along the way who want to go out into the world and get some perspective for themselves. For this reason, I’ve spent a whole lot of time putting together a free comprehensive email course for young professionals moving overseas which covers a lot of the most important information you need to know before moving internationally.
Move Your Career Overseas – FREE email course
Sign-up for the 6-part course below
My free 6-part email course – Everything Young Professionals Need to Know About Moving a Career Overseas – covers some great topics, including:
- Deciding where you want to go
- Marketing yourself overseas and finding a job
- Do’s & Don’ts of CV preparation
- Preparing for and crushing your interviews
- Understanding the finances of moving overseas
- Making friends, networking, and dealing with culture shock
If you’d like to sign up for the email course, simply click on the big shiny button below. I promise that it’ll be a punchy and valuable resource if you’re looking to move overseas within the next year. I’ve broken it up into 6 emails so that it takes you no more than 5 minutes a day to get full value! (We’re all so easily distracted these days)
I strongly believe that every single one of us should live overseas for a period of time. I’d love to help you gain that experience and perspective. If my email course doesn’t help you, please reach out if you have any other questions I can help you with as you prepare.
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