Is it because of a different culture? Or just because everything is new? Or because you are constantly out of your comfort zone? Or maybe a mix? I believe that living abroad gives you experiences no book, subject or person can ever teach you. Living abroad to me equals experiencing life through another lens, another filter. It has given me so many great opportunities, taught me many lessons made me the person who I am today. Find out why I love living abroad and read about an amazing story of randomly meeting new people.
As part of graduation, I had to reflect back on the last four years of my studies. After reflecting on what I had learned, and when I learned it, I realized something; the moments that have taught me the most didn’t come from reading books, studying subjects or doing projects. It came from one thing, and one thing only: travelling. I realized that I had lived in 4 different amazing cities (London, Hong Kong, Helsinki and Barcelona) over the course of the last four years, spending 1,5 years abroad. Something I am truly grateful for. Moreover, I realized that living abroad has created tremendous value in my life.
However, living abroad and travelling always sounds amazing, but why do I believe it is one of the most profound things one can do? I would like to share a story with you:
2 weeks ago, one of my buddies came to visit Barcelona. When going around the city, enjoying the warm and nice ‘winter’ sun, we ended up in the heart of the best neighbourhood in Barcelona – Gràcia – named Placa del Sol. We decided to go to the supermarket and get some beers and snacks to enjoy the sun while chilling on the square.
After catching up for a few hours, having great conversations about everything that had happen since I left, we saw this beautiful husky dog. The dog came to us and we started to pat the dog. When the owner of the dog came we had to make a comment about how beautiful his dog was. When telling him in English, he emphasised we could talk in Dutch as well, as it turned out that this guy was Dutch. Like always, Dutch people are everywhere; the world is a small place.
After talking to him for a while, he introduced us to his Polish friends and we started to have conversations about what he was doing in Barcelona. It turned out that this guy, Martijn he’s called, decided to travel the world in his van with his husky Sky and mate who he met along the way, called Bart. Truly amazing to hear, seeing him share his stories with so much passion and joy.
The time flew by and without knowing it was getting dark. We decided to continue the awesome conversations at their apartment, while enjoying the amazing views from that place. We ended up chilling with these amazing people, sharing our life stories, experiences, perspectives and lessons learned. Make sure to follow Martijn and Bart on their journey here!
During that whole day I realized that this day was the best day I have had so far in Barcelona. I have been in Barcelona for 4 months, and not a day has come close to this amazing one. And it wasn’t the best day because the sun was shining, nor because we were drinking beers. Obviously these things help but it was because we just met these strangers because they have a beautiful dog (I know sounds weird, right?!) and we connected. We didn’t judge or were biased; we were curious to know what his story was and how we ended up here. We wanted to learn from his perspective and listen to his stories.
That random connection, when you unexpectedly meet new people is the main reason I love living abroad and travelling. There is so much more to travelling that I love, but since I don’t want to make this an infinite blog once again I won’t go into further detail.
Living abroad gives you experiences like these that you cannot learn from books, subjects or television. You learn them when being open, curious and not judgemental. You learn them when you are outside of your comfort zone, since you are in a different country and city.
Can’t you have these experiences at home? Well, of course you can. But if you ask yourself the following questions; would you talk to a stranger? Would you share your life story with someone you just met? Would you trust them? I wouldn’t when I was living at home. I was too busy doing the things I had to do, staying in my comfort zone.
I love living abroad since I had many more random moments like the above mentioned. Moreover, living abroad makes you learn about other people’s perspective, values and thoughts. You experience cultural differences that show you that your culture might not be as good as you thought. You learn how to create and shape your own perspective, with the things you believe are right and wrong.
Living abroad brings this new appreciation to life. It makes you realize how good your life is and how grateful you should be. It teaches you invaluable lessons about life and shapes your reality.
Or at least, that is what it is doing for me. I will continue to live abroad, since my experiences speak for themselves. How about you? Do you love travelling and living abroad? Or do you believe in ‘home is where the heart is?’ No matter what you prefer, I'd love to hear your stories! Comment below.