Why Living Abroad Will Change You Fundamentally

The dream of resettling in a foreign country entices many people. Whether it’s about entering a more adventurous stage of your life, a cheaper cost of living, the draw of days spent in a sunny paradise, or even the lure of making more money, what everyone will agree upon is that living abroad can transform you as a person.

Woman sitting at airplane and looking to mobil phone.

Approaching the relocation process with the right frame of mind can help you secure a new life that will be deeply and internally satisfying for you in the long run.

Just remember three solid reasons why everyone should become an expat at least once in their life.

1. It Builds Character

There is something about facing challenges on a day-to-day basis, such as forging friendships with locals or finding an agreeable place to live, that will slowly build your internal resilience. Of course, you will have your moments when you’ll want to break down in tears, but as you begin to trust yourself to get out of sticky situations, you will find yourself maturing.


As you navigate the choppy waters of living abroad, your maturity becomes more and more apparent with every decision you take, big or small. The more time you spend abroad, the easier it gets. Although you’ll have to deal with local officials, real estate agents, and a new employer as you settle in — some or all of whom may only speak the local language — you will become self-reliant as part of the process.

2. It Offers a Cultural Immersion Experience

When you relocate to a new country, you are giving yourself the opportunity to get to know a different culture inside out. You’ll adapt to a new way of doing things while understanding the social context and historical roots that have shaped the present attitude of the people you are living among. This kind of immersion also allows you to learn the local language more easily, which, in turn, helps you to better understand cultural practices and expectations.

People going by bike in Copenhagen

Another part of the wonderful cultural immersion experience that is living abroad enables you to travel slowly and explore the country at your own pace. It’s the opposite experience of having to cram in all the sightseeing in the few days of your vacation. While you live abroad, you can spend your weekends exploring the wonders of the country, such as historical sights, museums, or national parks, and revisit them as many times as you wish.

3. It Transforms Your Tastes

Once you relocate and become accustomed to a new culture, you will find your own tastes and habits changing. You will find yourself embracing things you wouldn’t have considered before. The local cuisine will excite your taste buds in a new way. The local fashion sense will start to resonate with you and influence your clothing choices.

Chinese dimsum

You may also find yourself scheduling time differently. Some cultures make it easy for you organize events with friends at the last minute, whereas others insist that you schedule meetings weeks or months in advance. You will gradually adopt your pace of life to the new culture: even your sleeping habits might change, especially if you live in a country that embraces the time-honored tradition of the siesta.

Stay open-minded and see how it influences your personal preferences as you adopt new customs and start feeling more like a local.

Once you have taken the leap and look back at the decision of relocating, you’ll find that the rewards of living in another country — especially that inner feeling of achievement — far outweigh the stress and the cost of making the move. Even if the place you moved to didn’t end up being a good fit for you, you have matured as a person and found out what you are made of.

Denise Recalde is a Content Writer at Day Translations with eleven years of experience under her belt. Bilingual and a world traveler, she has been to 14 countries and spent about one half of her life in the US and the other half in Argentina.

(Image credit: iStockphoto)

5 Responses to “Why Living Abroad Will Change You Fundamentally”

  1. It’s said that InterNations it is not that reference community for foreign people, like me. Personally, I tried one time to “join” to the community and my subscription was declined, and they even didn’t a reasonable feedback.
    Anyway, meanwhile I’ll be participating in other community like ExpatForum because over there everybody help each other.

  2. Dear Igor,
    I’m sorry to hear your application was declined. If you’d like more information on your specific application and how to re-apply, please get in touch with support@internations.org.

  3. Very true on all 3 points! I can definitely get on Spain’s schedule. I love that they enjoy life and have great work life balance above all!

  4. Hi Emily,
    Glad to hear that you are enjoying life in Spain!

  5. Well written. I share your thoughts on these transformational traits. Born and raised in Austria and now living in Australia provided me with many opportunities (quite often disguised as challenges and totally stepping out of the comfort zone) to grow, prosper and being able to share these experiences with others is very fulfilling. All the Best!

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