I feel really strongly about everyone needing to spend some time living in a different country if that is in any way possible. Not everyone has that luxury so if you ever get a chance to do it no matter how long or short I think it might just be one of the best decisions in your life.
By the time I was 18 I had only been to two different countries, one of them being Namibia which borders South Africa and the other the UK where my sister worked for a year. Back then I was so jealous of her and even her small room in a shared house in Wimbledon seemed amazing to me at the time just because she was somewhere very far from home. I feel that its then I made my mind up to also live in a different country for at least a year. The next few years I seemed to go almost no where except for a quick trip to Amsterdam that just fuelled my wanderlust. Then came that moment I had been waiting for, my boyfriend got offered a job in Costa Rica and they would pay for both of us to come over. It was just a 6 month thing but that actually made it slightly less daunting and very exciting. We ended up only staying three months and taking another job offer in Malta where we absolutely fell in love with the Mediterranean way of life. We went back to Cape Town to sell all our stuff after Summer in Malta ended and then headed back again for almost four years. This was one of the best things I ever did and thats why I thought I would share my reasons you need to live in a foreign country if you ever get the opportunity.
1. It makes you appreciate everything back home:
This might not be the same for everyone but sometimes even if you live in the most beautiful place you might not se it and the saying absence makes the heart grow fonder works for your home as well. When we came back we suddenly did a lot more outdoor activities, we explored more and really appreciated where we lived.
2. It changes you:
Ok so this is kind of a broad and weird statement and once again who knows if its the same for everyone but living in a foreign country definitely changed me. You grow up faster but not in a bad way at all. I definitely feel that I would have been a different person if I didn’t go. I felt it made me much stronger because for the first year that I got residency in Malta I did not see my family once and even though it was painful I pushed through it. It also made me a lot more independent and where I used to be scared of traveling alone I now did it all the time! Other small things also changed, mostly how I looked at life and I just felt like the whole experience just opened my eyes.
3. You experience different cultures:
This is something that a lot of people don’t seem to get and even when they go on holiday they don’t fully immerse themselves in a culture. We were quite lucky/unlucky in the fact that Malta has English and Maltese as their first languages but I did pick up slang words and their slightly sing song why of talking. We had our local little family restaurants we frequented and did things Maltese people did. We still craved things from home like boerewors but Mike found out he quite liked rabbit and we would join in when the festas happened in Summer. Instead of being outsiders we embraced living there and enjoyed every second!
4. It leaves you with amazing memories:
We have a lot of great memories but the ones from when we lived abroad seem to always just be a little bit more magical. Summers spent swimming and lying on the rocks or the crazy Winter storms. Going out with friends or spontaneous trips to Gozo or Sicily everything just seemed a little bit better even though it wasn’t always.