Many people agree that stepping outside of your comfort zone opens doors to the most meaningful experiences in life. Travelling is an excellent way to escape from the routine, and expats know very well that moving abroad is basically taking that step much further, as they completely leave their comfort zone to embrace a whole new life!
As an expat living abroad, you start noticing different attitudes and behaviours from the very moment you arrive to a new country. This can result in misunderstanding or negative perceptions, but as soon as you are able to manage expectations, you start learning from the new culture and can then experience some really positive changes. Take a look at some of the reasons that explain why the experience of culture shock is good for you:
1. It makes you more understanding
By comprehending cultural differences and accepting new ways in which people behave, you can also gain a better understanding of human nature. Everyone is different – as you share with others who have a contrasting background to yours, you can become a more understanding and empathetic individual. This also gives you an opportunity to learn more about yourself!
2. It makes you stronger
Facing an unfamiliar environment and culture shock is scary. Once you move abroad, you have taken the challenge, and as you start to adapt and to get accustomed to your new home, you are beating the fear. Fighting the fear of the unknown provides you with a great deal of personal growth, and it shapes your personality to become someone stronger, more resilient to change.
3. It expands your social circle
Once you’ve mastered culture shock and you become more comfortable in your new environment, you have the opportunity to make new friends and expand your social circle to a global scale. Plus, befriending people from different backgrounds can turn into a transformative experience; it opens your mind and opens doors to opportunities in other parts of the world.
4. You become smarter
Part of immersing in a new culture may force you to learn a new language. Knowing a second language comes with obvious benefits as you apply them in your routine and it improves your communication, but there’s more. Recent studies have found that people who speak two or more languages have more grey matter in parts of their brains – the area responsible for attention span and short term memory. So managing another language gives you cognitive advantages as well!
5. The opportunity to try new things
New cultures usually bring you the opportunity to experience entirely different things, which can be both unique and exciting. The new environment may lead you to try new food, see new things, visit places, learn new sports... The list is endless! Each country has its perks and peculiarities, and embracing the adventure will enrich your life.
This article was featured on our Cigna Global customer magazine, Your Health Matters - Spring Edition 2016