Traveling abroad brings up feelings of excitement and fear. On the one hand, you see the world, and on the other, you miss home terribly. Who knows what fears you may realize when an ocean or two separate you from your country?
What if you’re by yourself and get lost? What if you end up spending more money than you can afford? What if you fail your boss with a trusted account? What if you get realize you never want to come home?
Go ahead. Say your fears aloud. Get them out, and then focus on the excitement.
What if you see centuries-old works of art and cobblestone roads of the Old City where no cars are allowed? What if you climb a mountain instead of falling? What if you rock at international networking and score new contracts? What if you love traveling so much it’s hard to come back?
Here’s why you should go abroad, even if it scares you:
1. You’ve Never Been Anywhere Else
Have you always lived in the same place? Worked in the same area? Never traveled outside your region? It’s time to get your passport and step outside your boundaries.
There are advantages to knowing your roots and where you come from, but eventually you outgrow your pond. Finding your place in the world means traveling outside of your home base, because home is always where the heart is, and it’s OK if that’s more than one place.
2. Relate to People of Different Backgrounds
Have you always felt a calling to go to a particular place? Go.
Are you afraid you’ll get lost or feel lonely? What do you do when you’re lost at home? You ask for directions, and you find the silver lining. Ask locals for suggestions and directions.
Do you haunt coffee shops or love to dance? Follow your passion by finding your crowd in a new place. Many people are familiar with Meetup.com, but there are social networks to help you find your way abroad, such as CouchSurfing and BeWelcome: You could find a place to stay, meet up for coffee or get insider tips about restaurants. Though your background appears to differ drastically from someone else, you have something in common — you have a shared passion. You may both have children or nerd out on developing apps.
Relating to people of different backgrounds will expand your horizons while making you feel at home everywhere in the world. Traveling abroad is also a great resume booster, as it shows you have been exposed to the world, interacting with different personality types and cultural experiences.
3. Sharpen Your Interpersonal Skills by Networking Abroad
Hey there, wallflower. It’s time to let those roots grow outward. Think of yourself as a tree instead — reaching out toward the sky and sunshine, your roots plummeting into the depths of the Earth, but also interconnected. Trees experience multiple layers of the world, and their roots share resources with other trees, just as you reach out to others in your network.
So, be a tree, and reach out. Sharpen your interpersonal skills abroad and grow your network. Share your resources and open up. Listen actively, and start with what you already know. You may feel shy, but focus on your connective points to build rapport and see how you can help one another professionally on your career paths. A great icebreaker is an earnest smile and “Hello.”
4. Learn a New Language for Your Resume
It’s time to polish up those high school language skills. Language learning apps will only get you so far, and if you want to be conversational, you need to have a conversation with a native.
Become an exchange student in a different company, and you’ll be more likely to retain aspects of the language you’ve learned because you’ll be learning every second of every day as you order food or talk about your love of penguins. You’ll have to adapt quickly by being immersed in a new culture.
5. Traveling for Work Gives You the Perfect Excuse
When your boss wants to travel, take the opportunity and run with it. You’ll show your employer you are willing to go the extra mile by several thousand miles, and that initiative will be an example of your commitment to the company and your career development.
The added perk is that you should have downtime to take in where you’re traveling. Even with back-to-back business meetings, make your opportunities. Instead of sitting in a stuffy conference room, suggest meeting at the client’s favorite local restaurant.
6. You’ll Love Home Even More
When you’re abroad, of course, you’ll miss home, and isn’t that one of the bittersweet beauties of traveling? By seeing the world, you gain more appreciation for your home.
The flowers will smell fresher, and relationships will feel renewed with added perspective by stepping outside the box for a while. You’ll have a dash of inspiration and beautiful sights to carry home with you.
Go abroad, even if it scares you. Feel the full spectrum of your emotions and discover new layers of self as you travel, because, in the end, it’s worth it. You will discover what truly matters to you, make new friends and advance your career with new experiences and skills.