As I enter my late twenties and approach my 30’s (really though, where on Earth does the time go!), I’ve been doing a lot of personal reflection. I realized that, overall, I’m very happy with where I am today. Although the journey hasn’t always been the easiest, I owe very much of who and where I am today to the international experiences I’ve had over the past 10 years. And that got me to thinking— there are so many advantages of living abroad in your twenties!
So, I’m here to tell you why you should stop thinking about traveling abroad and talking about getting a job overseas, and just go do it already. It’s time to stop daydreaming, stop scrolling through your Instagram feeds feeling “jealous,” stop waiting for the perfect moment and just go.
The perfect moment will never come. You may never be 100% ready. Sure, you can move abroad later in life, but it won’t be nearly as easy, or as feasible as it is right. now.
⚠️Warning: This post contains some tough love. But I promise, it’s all in hopes of inspiring you to take a chance, make a move and chase your dreams.
There are plenty of excuses for why people don’t follow their dreams of moving to a foreign country. No money. No time. My job. My family. My girlfriend/boyfriend. And yes, there are some of you out there with real reasons for not making the move, but the vast majority of you 20 somethings are old enough to make your own decisions and young enough to not have any real ties holding you back!
It’s not that you can’t move abroad. It’s that you won’t.
Living abroad is no longer as difficult as it once was. There are so many different options and programs, countless resources, and bloggers out there who have already paved the way for you. They’ve done the hard work, now all you have to do is the research. With some planning and a little motivation, living in a new country is possible for anyone.
There are so many advantages to living abroad, and the experience will open your eyes to more than you could even imagine. You’ll not only learn about the world, different cultures and foreign languages, but you’ll learn so much more about yourself.
So, I’ll say it one more time twenty-somethings— Now. Is. The. Time. Before you have real obligations holding you back. Before you settle down. Before you get comfortable.
Don’t second guess it. Don’t take my word for it. Get out and experience it for yourself.
What you come home with (if you come home 😬) will be more than worth it.
Here are 11 Advantages of Living Abroad in your Twenties
#1 Living abroad gives you a taste of the real “real world.”
There’s way too much pressure today to fall into the typical routine of life. Go to college, graduate, find a job, work hard, find a partner, get married and have kids.
We’re raised to believe that this is how we will lead ‘successful’ lives in the ‘real world.” Don’t get me wrong, the plan is a solid one, but it’s not for everyone.
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been asked some form of the incredibly ridiculous question-“When are you going to join the rest of us in the real world?”
Frankly, I don’t get it. What is this “real world” everyone refers to? Does this real world they speak of exist in the bubble of my hometown, or between the three stifling walls of a cubicle?
If you ask me, living abroad exposes you to the “real world” and more of the beauty it has to offer. Why not get out and experience that real world.
When you get back- there will be plenty of stuffy office cubicles eagerly waiting. I promise…
#2 Living and traveling abroad is the best education.
“There is no travel without learning and no learning without travel.”- Michel Serres
I learned [and retained] more in my first 2 years living abroad than I did in 16 years of traditional classroom education. Sorry about the pretty penny dropped on tuition Mom and Dad.
There is only so much that you can absorb while sitting in a classroom with a teacher talking at you. When you live and travel abroad, you learn through seeing and doing. You create strong tangible memories and experience history and culture first hand.
It wasn’t until I stepped foot into the Roman Coliseum that I understood the intense passion of the gladiators. Wasn’t until I visited Anne Frank’s annex that I felt the true horror of the Holocaust. In school, I was a good student, I studied and I excelled, but I also texted, Googled and daydreamed during class. 🤷♀️
Living abroad, in an unfamiliar new place, with fresh questioning eyes and curiosity, I can learn on my own terms- in a way that I’ll never forget.
#3 When you live abroad, you become a more “culturally-rounded” individual.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” -Mark Twain
There is way too much hate in our world. Racism, intolerance and stereotyping are not things of the past. They exist, more than ever, today.
Putting yourself in the position of being “the outsider,” helps breakdown the barriers of bigotry and open our eyes to the beauty of diversity. We learn what it’s like to feel different, to lean into our discomfort and to value the differences in culture, religion and race we encounter.
When fully immersed in other cultures you learn to value, respect and interact with people of all colors, religions and traditions. True cultural understanding stretches far past speaking the same language, and has much more to do with your context.
When it comes down to it, no matter how different we humans may seem, somehow we’re all fundamentally the same. There is always some common ground to build connections.
#4 You’ll get to see your country, your life and your culture from the outside looking in.
Crossing borders exposes us to ways of living, working and communicating other than our own. Seeing how others operate in turn causes us to reassess parts of your own culture and our own lives that we once naturally accepted as the “norm.”
The longer I’ve lived abroad, the more I’ve begun to critique my previous ways of thinking and reevaluate what’s important to me, my personal values, my dreams and goals. I’ve explored, discovered, changed, and opened my judgements and opinions. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve had a chance to get a look at where I come from through the eyes of others.
My experiences abroad have given me the opportunity to mix and match different styles and ways of life that work for me.
#5 You’ll experience a whole new round of firsts.
“The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time” – Bill Bryson
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE firsts. Firsts are new, surprising and a bit scary, but most of all firsts are exciting! As we get older though, these beloved firsts are harder and harder to come by.
When we get comfortable where we are and stick to what we know, it can limit us from meeting new people, trying new things and going to new places.
Moving abroad, presents you with the opportunity to expand your tastes and horizons. You’ll be forced into firsts. Some good. Some bad. All different. All new.
#6 You’ll learn to thrive outside of your comfort zone.
For me, this is one of the greatest advantages of living abroad. It’s one that will not only help you grow and develop personally, but will also prepare you for the professional world.
Until we willingly push ourselves out of our cozy little corners, we’ll never know what we’re truly capable of. True growth comes from taking risks and overcoming obstacles, and you will encounter plenty of these growth-provoking challenges when moving abroad.
Putting yourself out there in a foreign place can definitely be a scary experience, but it is one that will make you a better you. You’ll learn to survive, and hopefully even thrive in any situation that comes your way.
#7 Living abroad, you’ll learn to be more present, and live for now.
“Stop waiting for Friday, for summer, for someone to fall in love with you, for life. Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it and make the most of the moment you are in right now.”
Why is it that we’re always wishing and waiting for something better? During the week we will our weekend to come faster. During the winter, we wish for our summer. We constantly watch the clock, tick days off our calendars, and wait.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with looking forward to something exciting, but sometimes we get so caught up in the “waiting” that we forget to appreciate where we are and what we have right now.
Living and traveling abroad helps us see that every moment is precious. We learn to appreciate the journey just as much as the end game, because the journey, no matter how long, how far, or how treacherous, is what brings us somewhere extraordinary.
#8 Your communication skills will be better than ever.
Newsflash: We live in a globalized society.
Today, so much of our world and our economy is continuously connected. It’s pretty crucial to know how to relate and interact with people of different backgrounds, despite language barriers and cultural boundaries.
When living and working abroad, we not only make new friends, meet locals and other expats from all edges of the Earth, but learn how to form purposeful and meaningful international relationships and connections. If we’re lucky, we may even walk away with a few new close friends and cherished soulmates.
#9 You’ll acquire a new appreciation for home
“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” ― Lin Yutang
If nothing else, when we live and travel abroad, we learn to better appreciate where we come from. We often take for granted the simplicities of our lives in our home country, which make sense if we’ve never had to leave them behind. Amenities like clean running water, heat and electricity, dishwashers and clothing dryers, are things that so much of the world lives without.
Living abroad in your twenties, you’ll most likely experience some culture shock, but you’ll in turn learn to cope in the face of adversity, live with less and not take the little things you once did for granted.
Perhaps most importantly …
#10 You’ll get to better know yourself.
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself” -David Mitchell
What do you want out of your life? What do you want to do? Where do you want to be? Who do you want to be with?
If you find yourself lacking answers to these questions, an experience abroad may be just what you need.
When I came out of university, fancy, expensive degree in hand, I still had NO IDEA what I wanted out of my life. The perfect time to “take some time off” and go figure it out, right?
Well, I’d be lying if I said that now, I knew all the answers, but I’m definitely a whole lot closer.
Each and every place I’ve lived, each and every place I travel, I find a new piece of myself. Every country, every state, every city, has influenced who I am at this very moment.
I’ve learned more about what I want to accomplish in my life, what type of careers I’m interested in and what’s truly important to me. I’ve learned to have confidence in myself, my instincts and my opinions. I’ve become comfortable being alone and even appreciate the time to be alone with my thoughts and my feelings. I now have no problem admitting defeat, asking for help, talking to a stranger or putting my trust in others.
I’ve become more empathetic and understanding. More creative and resourceful. I’m no longer afraid to take risks or to put myself out there. Living abroad and traveling the world has made me who I am. I’m a better person because of it.
So, my advice to all you 20-somethings thinking about making the move:
Travel abroad. Study abroad. Live abroad. Work abroad. Take control of your own life and your own happiness. Learn who you are and what you want before you settle. Don’t wait for anyone else, don’t hold yourself back. Just go.
If you still need more convincing, here’s an inside look at my first year living and traveling abroad. Man, looking back on my 2015 still gives me goosebumps!!
Interested in living abroad and learning more about what it’s like to be an “expat?” Check out my Living Abroad & Expat Life blog series for more posts like this!
If you want to live abroad, but have no idea where to start, be sure to send me an email at email@example.com — I can help you figure out it moving and living abroad is right for you!
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If you need more convincing, check out this awesome list of travel bloggers for some sure-fire inspo!