We have probably all thought about living in a different culture or country at least once in our lives. When I was younger, I would always think about how different my personality would have been if I was born somewhere else. In 2014 one of my dreams came true and I did an exchange year in Michigan, a state in the United States. I went to a local high school and lived with a host family for about ten months. This experience had a huge impact on my life and I’m still grateful every day that I got the chance to do this. In this post I’ll share my thoughts and how living abroad helped develop me to become a better person.
- You will become independent. I went on an exchange year all by myself when I was only a 17-year-old girl who was ready to go see the world. This is probably the best gift my parents could have ever given me. I flew to a town where I didn’t know anyone, I had to get used to speaking a different language and adjusting to a new culture. There is no time to be shy, so I learned to just walk up to people and start a conversation with them. I still benefit from this every day and I think it’s definitely something that will bring you far in life.
- You will be fluent in a different language. Since most jobs in Europe nowadays require you to at least know some basic English, why not go and live in a new country for a while to fresh up your vocabulary? This is the best way to become fluent and especially when you don’t know anyone else in your new country that speaks your native language.
- New friendships. I have met so many unique people during my travels and exchange year that all had a different view on life. It is hard to maintain all these friendships once you go back to your homeland again, but there will always be a few you’ll stay in contact with. Another benefit is that you would have a place to stay at if you want to go visit them again.
- How to live abroad? There are actually multiple options for this. Universities usually offer semesters abroad, you can decide to take a gap year or do a language course for a couple of months. I went on an exchange year with EF. This is an international education company offering study abroad, language learning, cultural exchange and academic programs for different ages. Contact me or them if you would like to have some more information.