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3 patterns that emerge with living abroad

Going abroad is a thing these days. One has many ways how to go abroad – to volunteer, study or work. I am currently dwelling in Portugal during my semestral internship stay. Third time living abroad, third country and third set of experience. I can clearly recall my first time when I was about to go to Turkey to spend there one Erasmus semester. I kissed goodbye parents at the Prague airport and then slowly moved towards border check to get on the plane to Turkey. I could not fully comprehend what was happening and when I buckled up before taking off, I just kept asking myself: ‘Why the heck am I doing this? Leaving family, friends, and life I knew behind? Am I nuts? Going to Turkey? Is it even worth it?’ When I landed back in Prague a few months later, I was rock solid on my answer. It was all worth it.

Frankly speaking, I would love to share all the beautiful moments and the trips we had around Turkey. But that is not the point of this article. Until now, I haven’t spoken to a person who wouldn’t be happy after volunteering or studying abroad (for some limited timespan).  Besides discovering  w country, people mostly encounter different phenomena as well. People tend to discover something about themselves they haven't been fully aware of before. Given my own story, there are at least patterns that occur to me everytime I move into a new country.

Pattern of Agility

I consider myself to be rather a conservative person than flamboyant and super flexible. That changes after I move into the unknown, where’s technically nothing one could rely on apart from yourself. There’s no favorite shop, pub, club, place. What to do? Just keep calm and adjust. Sooner or later you will find it all and you may actually blend in. We had a few restaurants in Trabzon, Turkey when they remembered our names by heart. To be honest, it might be a bit stressful in the beginning but once you get over it, you have won for the rest of your life.

Pattern of Durability

Being agile may be enough but combined with natural durability makes one feel stronger. The more persistent you are, the better the results you may get. Meaning that if the first 5 restaurants in your vicinity are crappy; it doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole country sucks.

Regarding durability, there is one point that you may arrive at eventually. It is homesickness and anxiety. That’s not something to be ashamed of because that’s a natural cause of losing everything you know. It is part of living abroad and it is completely cool to talk about it.  

Pattern of Clarity

If you combine all the decisions one must make before moving abroad, does it not make you feel more solution-oriented? I mean, when you want to experience a different country, you are sure you want to go abroad and you seek solutions how to make that happen. This kind of 'going-abroad mindset'  remains in your brain and, in fact, it makes your life a bit clearer and easier. I can tell that from my experience. One quits on being indecisive about little unimportant things and starts looking at the bigger picture – e.g. if I were to go to Africa to see jungle I wouldn’t stress too much whether I will/won’t get a visa to South Africa. Instead, I would rather search even for a different African country where they have a jungle and is easier to access than South Africa. To point is to see the jungle, isn’t it?

And here comes the kicker. All the good and bad you experience while living abroad is great not just for having cool stories while enjoying Friday beer with your friends. In fact, it is scientifically proved that all that helps you to decide about your career and your future life.  Harvard Business Review published an article on studies related to MBA students, living abroad and perception of themselves earlier this year. (

To sum it up. You may feel anxious, nervous, worried when you take off on a journey to live abroad. That’s completely natural and do not succumb to that. The best part is yet to come after you land.

If you feel like going abroad,

Written by
Jakub Cumpelik
My name is Jakub Čumpelík, I am from the Czech Republic, studying Master's in Culture, Communication and Globalization in Aalborg, Denmark. I joined AIESEC in September 2017 as a member of the B2B team and I co-organized a national conference in March 2018.