We asked Dreams Abroad Members what they would do differently if they were just starting out. This, we thought, would shine a light on the advantages of living abroad. After finishing up his first year abroad as a language assistant in Madrid, here’s what Justin had to say.
What I Now Know About Living Abroad
1. I Need to Align My Goals
I know I can be more assertive in getting my point across in my advantages of living abroad. Now I understand that in order to get what I want I don’t need to be obsequious or aggressive. I just need to align my goals with those of the person I am asking for help.
2. Friends are Amazing
Friends are amazing, but what you really need is a circle of respect. I love my friends, they are always there for me when I’m feeling down and are up for a fun night out. However, when things need to get done, be it for your job or finding an apartment, what matters most are those who respect you and will work with you. Friends don’t always fit the bill in this regard.
3. If You’re Traveling Abroad You Will Make Mistakes
I have allowed myself to make mistakes. After all, this is my first time abroad. I am in a foreign country. Whenever something doesn’t work out as planned (missed flights, ferries, buses, etc.) I learned to not beat myself up. I am learning throughout this entire experience. Research only helps so much. Hell, that’s why I am writing an article about it.
4. Plan for Yourself and Your Advantages of Living Abroad
When I travel with friends I need to make sure I have my own plan and express my goals. At the end of the day, I really need to take care of myself. Throughout this first year, I realized that my feelings or intentions are not the same as others. Not even friends. This is not necessarily a bad thing. My friends and acquaintances aren’t malicious in their decisions.
5. Explore the World Around You
Allow yourself to explore. The advantages of living abroad will always remind you of your first experiences. Living in Madrid has allowed me to take chances that I never would have dreamed of in America. Take a surfing lesson, sure. Go to a horse farm on a Greek Island (more to come). Go for it! Nothing is as hard as it seems once you sit down and research what you need to do to accomplish it. Some things might still be nearly impossible (can I get into Stanford Graduate School, probably not) but at least at that point you have allowed yourself to dream, plan, and grow.
Justin is based in Madrid and just completed his first year as a language assistant and will be working in the Spanish capital for another year. You can follow his work and read more about him on his Dreams Abroad page.