Moving abroad is a scary prospect. The fear of the unknown is, in some way, present for everyone - even those whose intrepid spirits drive them around the globe. However, it is also exhilarating and, often, intoxicatingly addictive.
If you ever get the opportunity to live in another country, waltz with it. It will change your life. Even if you hate the experience, there'll be shards of your existence that will be irrevocably transformed. Here's why.
1. Suddenly you can do anything. There is no more empowering feeling than being absolutely terrified of something and doing it anyway. The knowledge that you can do this will stay with you for the rest of your life. It will seep into your relationships, your career prospects - it will help drown out the inevitable moments of self-doubt.
2. It challenges preconceived judgements. We all have them - beliefs that cultures are a certain way and opinions on whether or not we agree with this way of life. Living in another country is totally different to visiting it. You get a privileged peek inside and, while that may not mean you ever truly understand what you see, you will realise that you never know enough to judge. Hopefully you will be thirsty to discover more.
3. Understanding a new culture is more enriching than you could ever imagine. Once you do begin to understand the weird and wonderful goings on around you, you will also start to look at your own culture differently. Those who have travelled and even more so, lived abroad, have a much more realistic and balanced view of their own country. In my experience, these are the best people to know.
4. Patience. Many countries have no concept of queueing; you may never get your post; you have no idea what you're ordering in restaurants; and in certain places it is so unbelievably and incredibly frustrating, you will be reduced to tears at the apparent impossibility of what was previously so easy back home. 101 in patience training.
5. You will get lost and then found. This will happen again and again. You will learn to cherish it (unless you're on your way to an important meeting, in which case you will want to scream).
6. You will fall in love. With food. A city. A culture. A building. A feeling. You will probably also hate a lot of things. It's a time of extreme emotions.
7. Every day is an adventure. You will never know what to expect when you leave your front door. You will have countless "Really? Did that really just happen?" moments, purely because you're not in Kansas any more and things are done differently around here. If you're smart, you'll use those moments for creative fodder, or to give your pals back home a giggle.
8. You will be more interesting than those that haven't lived abroad. Of course they may not see it that way and may not really care about all your exciting stories of adventure in far flung places. Their apparent disinterest won't bother you though. You've conquered the world.