“The biggest lesson I’ve learned by living abroad for the last four years is the importance of communication.” – Hidetoshi Nakata
Ever since I found my love of travelling, I’ve always wanted to spend a few years living abroad. This isn’t for professional gain or a better lifestyle, but simply because I want to embrace new cultures and languages and now that I’m learning Spanish, the chances of me spending sometime living abroad are higher.
The only barrier to living abroad is your ability to communicate successfully. Whether your experience is good or bad mainly depends on whether or not you can communicate with the locals. While you don’t have to know the language of the country you are going to be living in before you go, you probably should make a decent effort to learn while you are there. I say this because a lot of expats who don’t bother to learn the language end up just staying around the same people and the same sorts of places as they would back at home. They are not experiencing any change of lifestyle other than location. They are missing out on all the best bits of living abroad i.e. new cultures, new people and most importantly new opportunities.
While it’s possible for me as an English speaker to live in most countries and be understood at the most basic level, I don’t see the enjoyment in this. It would be possible for me to get a job as a software developer at a company in Barcelona or Spain that communicated in English, but that doesn’t necessarily interest me. I like to push my boundaries, learn from new things and develop and adapt to change. If I was to move to Spain, I would want to join a multilingual company that required both English and Spanish proficiency so that I could further improve my Spanish fluency. To me, moving somewhere and living the same way you did before is no real change at all…
To summarise, the idea of living and working abroad is something that really interests me and is something that I would like to make a reality. But rather than living and working abroad in English, I’d want to do so in a foreign language like Spanish. Why move abroad and not make the effort?