Updated: Jul 16
It's true that when you step out of your comfort zone you feel uncomfortable... it's not called the comfort zone for anything, is it?
Going from relatively normal life in our country to moving to a country with a different language, and different systems, without support networks, is a big change and quite a shock.
However, we believe that this experience has made us grow in different ways. That's why I have compiled in this post 15 reasons why living abroad will make you grow.
Here is an anecdote that happened to me on my first day of onsite work, but you can skip it if you prefer and go to the item you are looking for in the table of contents below.
Table of content
When I arrived in February 2021 in Canada, I immediately started working, but since we were in a pandemic, I did the entire training period working from home, from the Airbnb I had booked for the first month.
In March things got better and we started going once a week. In preparation for my first day of physically going to work, I studied the map to get from Mississauga, where I live, to Brampton, where my job is.
I had to take two buses: the 66 and the 511. I had the map open and running for the entire trip so I knew which bus stop was my bus stop. All went well on the first bus, I got to the first stop and waited for the 511 to arrive.
It was arriving, I got on the bus and the driver said something to me that I couldn't understand with my poor real-life English. I told her I was going to Mississauga road, which is the street and she said, "we are not going there". I didn't know what to ask and I had to get off the bus, I froze!!!!! How the map had lied to me.... to me that I always plan everything!!!!
I couldn't understand... I refreshed and refreshed my map and the same 511 appeared. I waited again and again and there were also fewer buses.
Finally, I had 20 minutes to get to Brampton and decided to take an Uber, in 10 minutes I arrived at my destination. (what a relief)
When I arrived my Manager was waiting for me and told her what had happened to me... it turns out that just that day... the 511 line had a coronavirus outbreak with several bus drivers unable to work, so they decided (just that day) that they were not going to cover that area.
I felt very uncomfortable, it had been a long time since I had felt a sense of helplessness without knowing much where to turn, but that day I learned that no matter how much we plan, things can go off course, so you have to be prepared.
You may be asking yourself: would it be good for me to live abroad for a while? Will it change my perspective? Will I lose years of work experience in my home country if I do? If you are thinking about this...
I'm going to give you a list of 15 reasons why you will grow if you leave your country for a while.
Let's see what resonates most with you, but I'm going to cover everything from meeting new people, developing new habits, strengthening your language skills, and more.... let's dive right in!
You're going to...
1) Improve your language skills
It doesn't matter which country you choose. Once you get there, you're forced to speak in the local language to get to the simplest things.
When you go to the supermarket and the cashier asks you a lot of questions if you want to buy a coffee, ask for an address, etc.
You will start to understand better each time you repeat the visit and you will feel more confident.
I'll be honest, sometimes you just don't get it, so make sure you don't get a credit card or sign something without knowing what it means.
Worst case scenario, just say, I don't understand, can you repeat that, please, or can you speak more slowly? That might help.
If you then decide to go back to your home country, you will have experience in the new language that can help give you a professional edge.
2) Relearn everything from scratch
You will have to settle in a new city, a new culture, a new place and things that may be normal in our countries may be different in this new place, so you will have to learn almost everything from scratch.
One of the things that still affect me today is everything related to banking. I got a checking account and since I didn't have a Canadian credit score, I was able to apply for a secured credit card.
This means I have to deposit an amount (1200 CAD in my case) which the bank holds and they give me a credit card with 1000 CAD on it, in case I don't pay, they will take that deposit.
I have to log in weekly to my account to pay the amount I bought because if I use more than 30% of the total amount available it impacts my credit score.
In my country, if you pay on time you are already considered a good person (financially speaking) and they raise your limit more and more as you pay on time and that's it.
Here the system is different, it takes time to build a Canadian credit score, plus it depends not only on whether you pay on time, how long you have the card, what percentage you use, and more.
Obviously, when you arrive you have zero history and it does not help if you have a good payment history in your country.
3) Meet people from different backgrounds
It doesn't matter if you are going to a new country, studying or working. You will meet new people.
In our case, I met my coworkers and Aldo, his classmates from different parts of the world.
Once you start conversing, you start to see a new picture of people living in other countries, with different beliefs, and cultures, and it's amazing.
I have a coworker from India and I love to ask her about her hometown and her family, and she is very nice.
Also in a country like Canada where a high percentage of the population is immigrant, you will start to meet people from other countries who experienced the same things you did at the beginning and they will look for ways to help you.
4) Be a new person
You are almost literally born again. You come to a place where no one knows you and you can be anything you want.
I'm shy and even in Spanish I have a hard time socializing, but then I realized that if I don't speak it's hard for someone to talk to me, so I learned how to start conversations but that was a big jump out my comfort zone.
At the same time, you will learn new things about yourself, as you face new challenges, you will notice that you can overcome whatever comes your way, especially during the adaptation period.
5) Cultivate new habits
Being in a new place, you'll start to learn from the people around you.
We started to see that people go to parks and that there are always people exercising in the morning, so we included walking every day in our routine.
Today we walk almost 10 km a day whether it's sunny, raining, or snowing. It's amazing, isn't it?
6) Be a tourist in your new place
You will want to make the most of this adventure, so you'll start exploring your surroundings and learn where the locals go.
You will visit a new place every weekend and create fantastic memories. You will not need to plan a vacation because you'll have this whole new place to get to know and explore.
7) Research everything to be prepared
You'll start consulting other experiences and looking for different sources to get an idea of what you have to do.
We did this and, in some cases, we arrived at the office to pick up our papers and something was missing. So be patient and be prepared to get rejected and have to come back in another week.
8) Be vulnerable
You will feel frustrated and you may cry (in my case, it was quite a bit at first). But then you will have learned something new and know that you are capable of overcoming that challenge and many others.
I cried a lot in the beginning, I was alone for the first 2 months. Aldo and Corita were in Santiago and had to wait to be able to travel. It was hard to face important decisions and do everything alone, but here we are.
Visit this post, if you want to know the 25 challenges of moving to a new country
9) Celebrate small accomplishments
You will start celebrating the little things - really - and they will give you satisfaction beyond your dreams.
One small accomplishment we got was buying a cart to transport our groceries home from the supermarket. It was only 20 CAD, but it made our lives so much easier. We even took pictures the first day as if it were a late model car.
10) Be humble
As you are starting from scratch, you won't have the material things you might have had back home. No car. No money. Nothing. You will start building step by step your new self and it will be a great lesson in humility.
11) Appreciate what you have
As a newcomer, you will not have the freedom to buy too many things, but you will be able to focus on what you have.
Your partner, your pet, the place where you live, good health, and in time you will feel that you don't need more than that to be happy.
You will realize that the most important things are the memories that you generate with this experience, the material things will take a back seat.
12) Prioritize what matters
The life of a newcomer is not easy, especially from a monetary point of view. If you like to buy fancy things or like to revamp your closet every season, you might suffer a bit at first.
You will have to focus on grocery shopping and feeding yourself because prices are likely to be higher in Canada. You will have to use your money for what matters.
13) Feel closer to the people you are with (partner, spouse, etc.)
I'm sure this trip has strengthened our relationship. Most of our plans have been discussed on our morning walks.
I think this jump from our comfort zone, made us both grow and we have generated more confidence in what we can do together.
14) Challenge yourself with new changes
You will learn to overcome challenges and that will grow your ability to adapt to change.
I am not saying it's easy because I would be sugarcoating this experience, but after overcoming them you will start to feel unbeatable.
I always plan everything and I am slowly learning to embrace uncertainty and try to live what is present in my life right now.
15) Broaden your mind
By being in contact with people from different backgrounds your mind will expand and you will learn new things, you will see that the world is full of other points of view and ways of living.
You will be nourished by what other people teach you.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and that you now feel energized and motivated to look for options to take a trip or get out of your comfort zone for a while.
I read somewhere that in the end, you regret the things you didn't do more than the things you did do, so why not take the risk?
Tell me in the comments, have you thought about taking a break and exploring what else is out there? What makes you hesitate to travel abroad or get out of your comfort zone?