More and more people have been moving abroad in recent years, but it's not an easy decision to make, let alone go through with. At a time when the concept of travel has never been easier, anyone faced with this decision should take a look back before moving forward.
The general attitude toward travel-and, in particular, toward moving abroad-has changed drastically throughout the past two decades. There was a time not long ago when travelling to a faraway place or relocating to another country was considered an unfortunate event, the result of unemployment, disaster or hard times.
For example, in the mid-1800s, in one of the greatest natural disasters of all time, a potato famine caused the deaths of one million people in Ireland and forced another million to leave the country. In the 20th century, people all over the world were crossing borders to escape the First World War. Toward the end of this same period, extremely unprosperous conditions caused mass migrations across many parts of Europe due to a lack of jobs, uncertainty or an unsafe future. These were deciding factors, not just then but also in recent times.
When we keep this in mind, it's no wonder that the idea of travelling abroad can evoke a distinct feeling of fear or anxiety in most people.
Unfortunately for those who lived through these difficult periods of uncertainty, the mind is not so forgetful. However, as time passes and civilizations progress, more recent generations have had the opportunity to reassess this attitude toward travel and the reasons why one should move to another country.
This change is due in large part to the introduction of the Internet and is best seen through the emergence of an enormous online community known as “professional travel bloggers.” This movement is particularly significant because it demonstrates the swift change in attitude from the times when people travelled out of necessity to an age when travel has become a lifestyle.
When we leave history and unfortunate circumstances in the past where they belong, we find that moving to another country or travelling to a different part of the world has taken on an entirely different meaning. We travel for enjoyment, not necessity.
Although war, unemployment and natural disasters still exist, people are now travelling because they want a change. Nobody wants to leave behind their family or to go away with the thought that they may never see home again. However, there are changes which can only take place through the experience of going somewhere new.
You will feel enlightened when you experience a new culture. The traditions of a foreign country can open your eyes to new ideas or new ways of living. Watching locals go about their daily lives in a way which is slightly or vastly different from your own is enlightening and will teach you something about life which you may not otherwise have come to understand.
When you arrive somewhere new, you don't have the support system on which you once relied. It can be a scary feeling to move abroad and suddenly find yourself without friends, family or a daily routine. Moving to another country requires responsibility, which pushes you to overcome your fears. It takes courage to move into the unknown, but when you come out on the other side, you will find that it has strengthened your character.
Whether you move from Japan to USA or to New Zealand, when you move somewhere new, you stop being consumed by your own thoughts and learn to be mindful of the people around you. The experience of living in another culture or within the boundaries of an unknown destination will teach you to listen more, to value the presence of other people and to understand that it is they who will bring meaning to your life, not the other way around. You will make friends; it may take time, but it will happen and you will change during the time you spend with them.
A daily routine can kill your passion for life. The same office, the same bus, the same restaurant, the same bar, the same streets and the same people?staying in the same place for too long can make a person feel as though their life is stagnant. Something as simple as changing the scenery can be like pressing the “refresh” button on life.
Regardless of how small or insignificant these changes appear to be, the very fact that your surroundings are different awakens the senses. It is during these moments that you feel truly alive. The opportunity to meet new people can be a great thing, while, at the same time, being away from the comforts of home, family and friends can serve as a reminder to cherish the people who are most important to you.
When you move away from home, you understand the importance of getting to know yourself. There is no better way of doing this than through the new experiences you encounter while living in another country.
Living abroad-and, in particular, doing so alone?gives you time to understand who you are and what you want from life. It allows you to see life from a different perspective and to re-evaluate things that need to change.
It takes courage to move to another country; however, as with anything in life, instead of focusing on the reasons why it might not work, we should focus on the many reasons why it will. There is so much to be gained on a personal level from living abroad, and we should count ourselves lucky to have this opportunity. We are privileged to live in a time when the decision to move to another country can be based on the pursuit of joy and enlightenment, rather than on the terrible reasons people faced in the past.