Written by: Ana Alibegova
Edited by: Stefan Alijevikj
If a traveler attempts to make a retrospective of their so-far life experiences and crucial developments in their professional and personal growth, it is of no doubt that their first voyage abroad will have a seat on the pedestal. Every day spent abroad is a new challenge and a new learning opportunity that should be taken, reflected upon and applied. The list of life lessons from living abroad is unlimited; however, the following lines summarize just few of them:
1. You learn how to explore the things around you
Being a tourist and being part of the local community are two completely different travelling experiences. If you want to be perceived as a local, first you should do is to try to understand the local culture. Instead of visiting touristic spots, making thousands of photos from monuments and beautiful gothic buildings, try to sit in a café, order your favourite drink and observe the people around you. Avoid the typical spots of the Erasmus students in the town and attempt to discover places that locals prefer. You know you are more of a local than a tourist if there are at least 3 popular sightseeing attractions in the town that you still have not visited although you are there more than 10 months.
2. You master in making international friends
Certainly, the time we spend alone abroad impacts our criteria for friendships. The new friends you make whilst living abroad do not have many things in common with your childhood friends, however, they all bring something new and valuable in your life. Very often, you sort of a “lower” your expectations from the new people you meet, which comes as something logical, since the priority is to have a company. The quality of such company often goes out of the priorities’ list. To explain this better: your needs and wishes have changed, so it is not anymore that you expect to meet people similar to your friends in your home-country. Instead, you choose to spend more time with outgoing people, who can be a great company for traveling around, hitch-hiking, partying or Saturday shopping, and for the sake of truth, you sometimes meet people you will never have them befriended if the scene was set in your fatherland. Still, certain number of the instantly made friendships, proves to be firm and stable and live on after the end of your stay abroad. Then you also become welcomed in other countries, where your new/old friend will act as your host, will show you the city and will introduce you to their friends.
3. You learn how to enjoy while being alone
“Alone does not mean lonely” – this becomes your everyday mantra. You become an expert in wandering around the streets in the old town, you spend your weekends visiting randomly chosen places on the outskirts of the town, and very often you decide to take a bus, just travel to the last station and explore that part of the town. You learn how to get inspired by simple things, random conversation with some stranger in the underground, exchange of few thoughts about the political situation in the country with the supermarket teller, a smile by a playful child in a big city mall. But most of all, you learn to enjoy the time spend alone at home. Not only that finally you have all the time on Earth to read books, watch your favourite tv-shows, download new documentaries, but you also have endless moments to think about your life, what you really want, where you see yourself in future, do you make the right steps and decisions. And those moments are priceless and can’t be exchanged for nothing.