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New research explains why moving abroad is the best way to find yourself

By Quartz

I was a late bloomer. When I was young, questions about what I wanted to do when I grew up left me stumped. Then IRead full story

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  • Ian Kumamoto
    Ian Kumamoto Student at New York University

    Lan: I’m lucky enough to have lived in Mexico, the U.S., China and Spain and it’s true that you learn exponentially more about yourself when you’re abroad than you would at home. But the real trick is learning how to continue growing once you’ve settled down. Offering part of my apartment to couch surfers once in a while has been a great way of bringing the opinions, foods and people of the world to me. If you are open to the idea, the best part will be that you’ll have new friends to stay with when

    Lan: I’m lucky enough to have lived in Mexico, the U.S., China and Spain and it’s true that you learn exponentially more about yourself when you’re abroad than you would at home. But the real trick is learning how to continue growing once you’ve settled down. Offering part of my apartment to couch surfers once in a while has been a great way of bringing the opinions, foods and people of the world to me. If you are open to the idea, the best part will be that you’ll have new friends to stay with when you decide to travel (and save hundreds in hotel money!).

  • Just moving cities in the United States as an adult can do this for you. We moved to Chicago after a long long time in NYC. So I consider my self a domestic ex-Pat. Chicago is very different from the coastal cities I had lived in. You have to make new friends and you see things fresh in a way that locals who are ingrained no longer do.

  • As an expat of six years who just repatriated to the US, this resonates very clearly - “Free of the restraints and expectations associated with their own cultures, expats had more opportunities to find out what is most important to them.”

  • Art Busch
    Art BuschFree-Lance, Pro Bono Observer

    This may not be well received, but so be it. National service is the key to a shared history between us. Moving overseas is broadening only to a point. Our nation lacks a sense of mutually shared sacrifice to knit it together. FDR, Clinton and others have recognized this missing link that's elemental to our union and cultural cohesion. Our nation is incredibly fragmented and moving further apart each day. Why can't the citizens of this nation come together to improve ourselves over a mutual respect

    This may not be well received, but so be it. National service is the key to a shared history between us. Moving overseas is broadening only to a point. Our nation lacks a sense of mutually shared sacrifice to knit it together. FDR, Clinton and others have recognized this missing link that's elemental to our union and cultural cohesion. Our nation is incredibly fragmented and moving further apart each day. Why can't the citizens of this nation come together to improve ourselves over a mutual respect for what ALL of us built in proceeding generations? We all have given, sacrificed, lost in some way in our family history. Make the nation we live in worth it.

  • Ernie Sander
    Ernie SanderDirector of Platform Community at Quartz

    This is absolutely true, based on my own experience, and particularly if you wind up living in places where the language and culture are really different than your own. I mean living in Paris sounds fabulous, but living in China or India or Russia or Saudi Arabia is more apt to change you as a person.

    It used to be (and maybe still is) that if you didn't know what you wanted to do after college, you just went to law school. I would argue that living overseas is a much more interesting (and much

    This is absolutely true, based on my own experience, and particularly if you wind up living in places where the language and culture are really different than your own. I mean living in Paris sounds fabulous, but living in China or India or Russia or Saudi Arabia is more apt to change you as a person.

    It used to be (and maybe still is) that if you didn't know what you wanted to do after college, you just went to law school. I would argue that living overseas is a much more interesting (and much cheaper) way to buy a couple of years to learn about yourself and figure out what comes next. Because you pick up unusual life skills and meet a very different set of people, it opens up doors, personal and professional, that you wouldn't have anticipated.

  • Takuma Kakehi
    Takuma KakehiProduct Manager at Quartz

    Things I learned from living in 4 countries.

    1. My cultural norm was no longer a norm. Things I did, which were never questioned before, had to be explainable.

    2. Because of 1, I found myself eliminating a lot of micro nuounces, which in fact constitute foundations of my culture.

    3. When I lived in India, I lived in a gated semi-wealthy neighborhood and commuted to a wealthy school, seeing hundreds of homeless children working on construction sites. I then realized how my situation was just fortunate

    Things I learned from living in 4 countries.

    1. My cultural norm was no longer a norm. Things I did, which were never questioned before, had to be explainable.

    2. Because of 1, I found myself eliminating a lot of micro nuounces, which in fact constitute foundations of my culture.

    3. When I lived in India, I lived in a gated semi-wealthy neighborhood and commuted to a wealthy school, seeing hundreds of homeless children working on construction sites. I then realized how my situation was just fortunate and I would lose everything if I don't think hard and work hard.

  • Syed Abbas
    Syed AbbasProject Coordinator - Business Analyst

    Living in a foreign country as an expat broadens yiu horizon with rich experience and novel opportunities. Living in a county which is perceived as dangerous and then knowing that the ground reality is different is an eye opening experience.

  • I recently wrote about my experience moving to the U.S. from Ireland. I became slightly more puritanical and insufferable since moving to New York.

    Unfortunately, people in the comments section agreed. First time I was sorry that happened. (The fact that I just made this about me proves my point!)

  • I’ve been in Prague now half my life. It’s like anything. I’ve met people who’ve gone full native and others who complained for 20 years that they can’t watch football and get Chipotle. You get out of things what you put into them.

  • Also it’s the best way to learn about your home country and its culture.

  • Raymond  Theriault
    Raymond Theriault Manager

    I’ve lived in seven countries over 22 years and loved it all. BY FAR the weirdest country I’ve ever moved to was ... back to the US between some of these moves. Moving abroad, everything was new and we adapted ourselves to the new locales with our ingrained Yankee cultures. But moving BACK to the CONUS meant moving (military) to a part of the US we’d never lived in before and all that entails — and go away for two weeks, return to the States, and it seems foreign again - the US changes in large and

    I’ve lived in seven countries over 22 years and loved it all. BY FAR the weirdest country I’ve ever moved to was ... back to the US between some of these moves. Moving abroad, everything was new and we adapted ourselves to the new locales with our ingrained Yankee cultures. But moving BACK to the CONUS meant moving (military) to a part of the US we’d never lived in before and all that entails — and go away for two weeks, return to the States, and it seems foreign again - the US changes in large and in subtle ways every 24 minutes to 24 hours. Very weird place. Best place to live: Amman, Jordan. The people were incredible. And: I never fit in at family reunions — nobody’s curious about West Berlin before “die Berliner Mauer” came down or life in the South Pacific. But “oh those Red Sox...” can go on for an entire afternoon. Fascinating to me that THAT can happen too.

  • Emily Randol
    Emily RandolFull Time Student/Waitress

    Moving abroad even helped me discover and exercise my political knowledge and beliefs, something I hadn’t had to do living in America

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