Four years ago I was fresh out of university and watching as, one-by-one, my friends found jobs with excellent career prospects or began in-depth Masters and apprenticeship courses.
I, meanwhile, browsed career websites with little interest usually Googling some far-away destination at the same time. Nothing jumped out at me, there was just an ever-growing conviction to try what I’ve always wanted to do – live abroad! So I took the plunge and moved to Italy. And I’m still here.
Whether it’s just for a few months or long-term, now is the time to try an experience living abroad and here’s why.
You can learn a new language
Living in a country which speaks a different language to is a great opportunity for us English speakers. We’re generally too lazy to learn another language properly!
Not only are you immersed in the language but it’s also much easier to learn it when you are younger. You’ll find you pick up expressions very quickly and, backed up with a bit of textbook study, you’ll be chatting and making friends in no time.
You can enrich your CV
As well as learning a language, you’ll develop other key characteristics that employers look for, such as solving problems independently, confidence, and courage in the face of challenges.
It makes you an all-round more interesting person and will distinguish you from other candidates.
You know how to use social media to your advantage
You’re young and technologically savvy, so you can think about starting a blog or using Instagram to make money or get free perks.
Write and share pictures of the wonderful time you are having, and if you gain enough interest you might find hotels offering you free nights, or even magazines who will pay for your stories.
And even if it doesn’t come to that you have a beautiful record of your time abroad to look back on later, and a way to make your friends at home very jealous!
It’s a chance to try a completely new job
One of the biggest problems when moving abroad is feeling like you have to go right back to the bottom of the career ladder.
When you’re in your 20s, however, you are still experimenting with jobs and what you want to do, so you can take your move abroad as an opportunity to try something completely new, and maybe a little crazy.
Perhaps you want to open a pop up bar, or sell your artwork, or write. I teach English, a standard job for expats abroad, but I started a blog when I first arrived that has blossomed into writing regular articles for magazines and websites.
Remember, if your experiment doesn’t work you’ve got time to switch career paths and chalk one up to experience.
You can make not having much money a positive thing
At this age you can live without many luxuries, so flat sharing becomes an opportunity to make friends, and not being able to eat out means learning to cook a new cuisine.
In fact, you’ll end up living much more like a local rather than like you’re on a luxury package holiday. I’ve learnt to make my own home-made pasta. The next step is a pizza oven in the garden.
You’ll learn to be less materialistic
On a similar note to above, depending on where you go many places won’t have all the luxuries you’re used to at home. It might be as little as not having your favourite brands, or as extreme as having to travel just for basic supplies.
The good thing is, you realize most of the things you thought of as essentials really aren’t, and you learn to spend money wisely on what’s really important.
You’re likely to be less set in your ways at this age
You’ll find it easier to adapt to a new culture, to learn new traditions and be more open-minded to differences. You might end up participating in some local festivals or trying out an unusual hobby.
I now dance salsa and latino and found the courage to perform in the main piazza of the town, something I never would have even considered before!
You’ll meet people with different backgrounds
I’ve met people who were raised living in the same house as four generations of their family, and I’ve met people who left home at the age of 16 to earn a living. Your idea of ‘normal’ will be challenged, and this is the perfect age for it.
If a life changing opportunity comes along you can actually take it
At this age you’re likely to be less tied down to living in a particular country or in a particular way, so if your temporary job suddenly becomes less temporary you can actually make a life-changing decision to stay abroad.
Even more so, if you find a person abroad who makes you want to stay (as happened to me) you probably don’t have to think about painful long distance relationships.
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