Living abroad changes your life for the better

By Rylee Seavers | Broadcast Reporter

Many people dream of traveling to far off places, but most would never dream of living in one. For me, any time not spent preparing for my future is spent dreaming about the places I may get the chance to visit and, hopefully live in.

Some Americans forget that there are more countries in the world than the United States. But when you travel and live abroad, you see that there are people on the other side of the world just like us. They work, socialize and live much like we do in the United States, just in different languages.

Seeing the world changes your perspective more than most people realize; immersing yourself in another culture makes you a more knowledgeable person. It changes your outlook on issues and brings news into a different light. When you watch TV or read articles, the names of foreign cities aren’t so foreign anymore. They carry memories with them of quiet, familiar streets, charming restaurants and picturesque buildings.

I know what you are thinking. How can I know this? I got a taste of being an expatriate while studying abroad this summer in Budapest, Hungary. The time I spent abroad has made me anxious for my next trip and excited to learn how to live in another country.

But as much as I relish the adventure of being abroad, I came back to the United States feeling a much greater appreciation for my own country. I could go to the grocery store and actually read the labels, I could drive on familiar streets again and I could feel the security of being in my own home surrounded by my family.

That’s not to say I didn’t love my time in Hungary, but so often Americans take what we have for granted. In Hungary, things like air conditioning and dryers are not normal, while they are considered essential in the United States. It is humbling to be reminded that there are people who live without these things and are perfectly happy.

European culture is also endlessly intriguing. The loud and enthusiastic behavior of most Americans does not fit with the reserved and cordial behavior of Europeans. The culture and tradition of European countries extends so far back into history, it leaves me thinking about how young our country is.

To truly explore and learn a city, you need more time than a summer vacation can provide. This is why I believe more Americans should live abroad, even if it is only for a month. Just walking around a city, talking to its residents, finding a favorite restaurant or café and becoming familiar with a country that is not your own makes you a more informed citizen of the world.

Making a home in a distant city is not an easy thing to do, but it can make the world seem smaller. Then someday, after you have come home, you may see a photo of a street you used to walk down every day or even meet someone from a country you visited and you will be better off for having made a home out of an unfamiliar place.