Benefits of living abroad |
Saudi Gazette - 10 July, 2012
Author: Khalid Al-Seghayer
Living in a foreign country, to work, study or for any other reason is a complex and rewarding experience. It allows us to arrive at realizations, which can shape our characters, leaving a long-term impact on our personalities.
Despite the disadvantages of traveling away from home - the distance from family and friends, the cultural challenges and differences, the difficulty of making friends, the feelings of isolation, and so on - when the advantages and disadvantages are evaluated, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Living in another country gives us an opportunity to be independent and responsible, traits which will help us reach goals we dream of achieving. This experience creates within us independence and a sense of responsibility, by providing us with an opportunity to take care of all our belongings and needs, and manage our expenses by ourselves. It also grants us a rich cultural experience and helps us develop a cosmopolitan outlook. The increased cultural awareness which we gain by traveling can help eliminate personal prejudices and increase our cultural flexibility.
Since we often travel to foreign lands voluntarily, we should strive to make our stay productive and beneficial. Each country has its own set of customs, values, and rules, which can differ from ours. We need to understand the importance of respectful behavior and not approach residents with prejudice or bias. We should be considerate of the local people’s preferences, and try to learn from them, by showing interest in and appreciating their differences rather than fearing them. We should be culturally sensitive of the places we visit and always behave according to local norms. This can spare us the trouble of being caught in difficult situations.
We should learn to seize every opportunity to embrace all aspects of the new environment. This requires us to make new friends, and accept different opinions, points of view and values. This does not mean, of course, that we must abandon our own values and principles. On the contrary, it is a call to uphold or maintain our values and only change or modify those that we believe should be changed. In other words, we should not undergo a revolution in our preexisting values and principles, nor should we limit our acceptance of others when they differ from us.
Our stay in a foreign country can be an interesting and unforgettable experience if we make an effort to learn a few skills. Living abroad broadens our horizons, giving us confidence, and allowing us a deeper understanding of ourselves. It enables us to see the world from different perspectives, and to appreciate the best of all cultures.—The writer is a Saudi academic who can be reached at email@example.com