The perks of being a million miles away from home

"While there were a bunch of culture shocks, I was also able to value the new culture and benefit from things I didn’t have the chance to do in my previous country of residence. With new laws, foods, songs, and weather, there’s so much to appreciate when you move far away!" 

So you’re thinking of moving halfway across the world for your further education? Or perhaps it’s just a few countries away? Nonetheless, you’re about to embark on a journey like no other. As an international student from not only another country, but also a whole other continent, allow me to walk you through the perks of being a million miles away from home. Bear in mind, of course, this may vary for those who are coming from closer or further away - but I promise a lot of this will still apply no matter how far away you are from your home country. Here are my top 5 benefits of studying abroad. 

Nav Singh (21) is currently a third-year student. She grew up in Oman and moved to Maastricht for her bachelor at hotel school Maastricht

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1. Immerse yourself while still resilient

Being young often means you are also more resilient than you will be when you are older. When you’re older, you might realize that you’re more in control and you can leave a job or a country if you deem necessary. However, being an international student might mean there’s more at stake and you need to hold on for a while, despite wanting to go back home. Going back home generally means throwing away the hundreds, if not thousands of euros or dollars that it took to get you there in the first place. With this in mind, most students choose to rough it out and they come out twice as strong! It’s important to develop resilience to situations, and being an international student often takes care of this quite early on in life. 

2. A fun DIY adventure

Learn to open your bank account, book your flights home, how to translate currency, finding a home, and so much more! These are all life skills you’d want to have anyway. Similar to the point made above, may as well learn it early! You’ll never forget how to do these things and you’ll be the to-go person for those still struggling. From personal experience, my parents actually left the Netherlands before I had the chance to open my bank account. My biggest nightmare was that I couldn’t really pay for much and I was very stressed. But despite having little to no friends, I managed to do it on my own and felt accomplished like no other! This is a feeling and experience I will carry with me my whole life, and I was only 18 when it all happened. And can you believe it – that now I am in my 20s I know people, who have never had to do half the things I’ve done so far? 

3. Learn about new cultures

If your parents switched jobs often or were transferred around the world quite frequently, then you’ll know what I mean when I say; there are so many cultural differences, the further from home you travel. Having grown up in one country (however not my passport nationality) my whole life, moving to the Netherlands was the first time I’d ever moved abroad. While there were a bunch of culture shocks, I was also able to value the new culture and benefit from things I didn’t have the chance to do in my previous country of residence. With new laws, foods, songs, and weather, there’s so much to appreciate when you move far away! 

4. Opportunity to learn a new language

Now, I can’t say that this has been a personal goal of mine, but I’ve seen others benefit from this. It is normally quite easy to learn a language when surrounded by it 24/7, and even easier if you speak a similar sounding language which makes it easier to pick up a new language. If not to learn the whole language, you’ll most certainly pick up the most important phrases and words needed in the country. And if that’s enough, then you’re quite good to go! 

5. Become increasingly self-reliant

    Becoming independent is more than just knowing how to open a bank account or finding a home in an ongoing housing crisis. It’s also about being emotionally and mentally self-reliant. It’s all about persevering when you wish your mum could come over and hug you, but you know she can’t until it’s Christmas time. Moving abroad provides a number of emotional and mental struggles for some, and more so if you’re younger and only just moved out of your parent’s home. However, it’s the times you’re living on your own, miles away from comfort, in which you will grow the most. You will definitely surprise yourself with how much you can take and how self-sufficient you can actually be. We are all capable of so much more than we know, and let me tell you, moving abroad will unlock this part of you. After the struggle, you will reap the benefits. 

Have I convinced you to move abroad yet? Or perhaps just scared you a little? I tried to tell it like it is, and it’s not always hunky-dory, but it sure is rewarding in the long run. You are able to learn a lot of life’s lessons quite early on which is honestly quite a relief. Moving abroad is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try. It is one of the most enriching and illuminating experiences you can put yourself through, and believe me, it’s the one thing you probably won’t ever regret! 

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