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How The Experience Of Living Abroad Makes You See The World Differently

How The Experience Of Living Abroad Makes You See The World Differently

I didn’t really start to travel abroad until my 20s when I decided to travel the world and see all the countries I had endlessly seen and read in magazines and TV programs. My time spent traveling gave me experiences I never even expected to have – I met new friends, skydived in New Zealand, traveled on the Trans-Siberian train through Russia, taught English in China and not to mention all the weird and wonderful sites, food and amazing sunsets and sunrises from all points of the world.

Then came an opportunity to move to Norway – the small, cold, beautiful Scandinavian country with a population of around 5 million people. Despite traveling to many different countries, up until this point, doing so was always temporary – a feeling of enjoying the present moment because at some point it will end and I’ll be home and back to normal life.

Moving abroad was a whole different experience and something that taught me, not only a huge amount about a different country, but a huge amount about myself.

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You Are Exposed To A New Lifestyle

Moving anywhere away from your home creates a mixture of excitement and fear. My past traveling experiences gave me some confidence about what to expect but I was surprised and challenged in ways I never even thought about.

When you live in the comfort of your home country, living around the people you’ve known all your life, you can sometimes be stuck and never really realize it. Moving away showed me just how stuck in life I was and opened my eyes to a bigger picture. Adapting to a new lifestyle showed me a different side to life. For example, Norwegian life revolves around the cold winters and it was nothing I had ever really experienced before. It took a while to get used to the -20 degree temperatures but experiencing extremes like that and making them part of my everyday life taught me to adapt to something outside of my comfort zone. I will never complain about the cold again – in fact I’ve learned to embrace and make the most of it!

You Get To Fully Embrace A New Culture

The culture can be very different from your own even if it doesn’t seem like it from the outside. The Norwegian culture is deep-rooted in nature, its language and its mindset. When I moved to this country full of beautiful fjords, mountains and lakes, with the opportunity to see the amazing Northern Lights whenever I stepped out of my front door, it wasn’t just the sheer natural wonder of the country but the way in which Norwegians embrace it and make it an intrinsic part of their lives.

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Taking in a new culture adds a different dimension to you, it allows you to be more open and accepting of how other people do things and it lets you see a different side to life. I spent more time in nature than I ever had before, I ate food I’d never heard of and I took on their customs, their manners and their language. It’s not until you live in a new country that your ideas, ways of doing things and perspectives can really change.

You Learn More About Yourself

I learned a lot about myself from traveling but when you take the step to move abroad, you develop fully your ability to adapt and embrace new things. Traveling is only temporary but your choice to stay put in a place far from home and developing your own way of living adds to your identity. It lets us see what we are capable of doing which can’t always be apparent when we live our normal daily lives, at home in our comfort zones.

When I first moved abroad, I was constantly being tested through overcoming challenges and solving problems like finding a home, a job, dealing with people who didn’t always speak my language or sorting out necessary paperwork – and each time I was tested, I was surprised at seeing my potential and just how amazing I could be – it allowed me to be the best version of myself.

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You Gain A Sense Of Accomplishment

There are lots of things we can do to get a sense of accomplishment but moving abroad and all that it entails was the biggest achievement of all for me. It took me so far out of my comfort zone with all the fears and ‘what ifs’ that come with it and I survived. It showed me I have the ability to control and change my circumstances – I can make life happen despite the challenges, the fears and the expectations. Challenges allow us to flourish and the challenge of moving abroad not only allows us to see a diversely different country, but it creates opportunities for accomplishments on all levels.

Every time we overcome obstacles we become a little bit stronger, a little bit more confident in our own abilities and we see the full extent of what we’re able to do. Learning a new language was a huge challenge for me and although I don’t speak it that well, I’m proud that I can understand and speak a completely different language at all.

It Helped You Develop A Positive Mindset

Many countries have different collective mindsets developed through their history, culture and way of life and it can sometimes be very different from your own. For me, the Norwegian mindset taught me a lot and lead me to question my own values and how I truly look at myself and live my life.

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Norway may be a rich country but the Norwegian culture has been carved out of a history of survival; living in difficult, isolated landscape and working hard to live in these extreme conditions with little money. In Norway, gender equality is high as well as societal equality. It’s no surprise that it’s been voted one of the best places to live in for the last decade.

There is also a huge emphasis on team work and a deep sense of community and togetherness in Norway – something that I realized was lacking in my own country. I took away much more from my experience of living abroad than I was expecting to, and I now find myself naturally applying what I learned and absorbed into my own life, moving forward to wherever I live, in a positive way.

Why Moving Abroad Is A Positive Step

Whichever country you choose to move to, I believe they will all have an aspect of their culture and their own perspectives that can teach you more about your way of living and thinking. Living in a different country infiltrates your thoughts, ideas and beliefs for the better and for me, it made me more confident, humble and accepting of the people around me – all with a sense of worldly openness.

If anyone is contemplating living abroad then I couldn’t recommend anything more. You will learn more about yourself than you ever have before and realize your potential and ability to adapt and embrace through your new environment. Living abroad may not be for everyone, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity, but I believe the experience will create an insightful and wonderful part of you and I truly believe if we all spent a significant time immersed in a foreign culture the world would be a much better place.

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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