A year and a half ago I quit my job, packed up my life and said goodbye to family and friends. My decision to move halfway around the world, to teach English in South Korea was met with many different reactions, both good and bad. Although most of the people I choose to surround myself with are fully supportive of my decision there were those that had their doubts or at least thought I was a little crazy. Although, good or bad they all seemed to agree on one thing, "This will be an adventure that will change your life". So now after being here for a year and a half, traveling to other countries and taking the opportunity to visit home I'll take a minute to contemplate those changes and make an attempt at explaining ‘How Living Abroad Can Make You A Better Person’.
Before responding to this prompt I wonder, isn't it a little bias? Does living abroad necessarily make you a better person? Does everyone automatically have a positive outcome after moving to another country, filled with rainbows and butterflies? I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say no, not everyone is going to change for the better or have the time of their life. That being said, I do believe that I have changed (as my friends predicted) and mostly for the better. Okay let's get on with it, how exactly have I changed? Let me count the ways
2. Step out of your comfort zone: as if picking up and relocating yourself to a foreign land wasn't challenging enough, you will continue to push yourself (or be pushed) to try new things. I have a feeling i'm going to start sounding like a broken record but these changes shouldn't come as a surprise, aren't these the kinds of things you were seeking when you decided to jump ship? Basically, when you're in a new country, meeting new people, eating new foods, and trying new things; some of them might not be classified as things you're comfortable with. Weather it's stripping down and visiting the jimjilbang with your staff, eating a 1000 year old egg, or singing love songs with your principal at the noraebang, you will do it and you will enjoy every second of it. How does this make you a better person? Well, I don't know exactly, if you enjoy sitting at home, watching FOX, eating pizza and drinking miller lite well then fine, enjoy. But personally I think it's a little more exciting to break out of your shell and see what others have in mind when they say fun.
3. Try new things, learn to say yes: This might be a slight overlap with the previous but not all of these new things that you're willing to say yes to will be outside your comfort zone. But why is it that living abroad will make you try new things or say yes more often? Why is it that if you were offered corn ice cream at home you'd probably gag a little and say "no thank you," but if the opportunity presents itself in your new home, "hell ya pass it this way". My theory behind this one is that the little person living inside you're head is screaming "oh my god, corn ice cream? I might never find this again, I must try it". Living in a new culture not knowing how long you're going to stay or where you might end up next (unless you have a plan in which case, kudos to you) you may begin treating everything like a once in a lifetime opportunity. So next time your friend asks you to jump on the next train to XXX you're going to say, yeah let's go! My biggest hope for myself is that I retain this mindset after leaving my new home. I hope that once I return home I remember to say yes more often and treat every opportunity as something worth trying, especially if it's anything like this.
|Cafe study session|