Living abroad opens up a whole new world of opportunities and experiences. Getting to know a new culture, new food, a new way of life — these can all expand our horizons and even lead to discoveries about our country of origin.
That’s not to say living abroad is always easy, of course. There are plenty of challenges to overcome, such as learning a new language and adjusting to different ways of doing things.
Take Ernest Hemingway, for example. The American author famously fell in love with Paris, where he lived from 1922 to 1928, and which he fondly referred to as a “moveable feast.” At the same time, Hemingway was well aware of the downsides of expat life, including the tendency to become aimless and indolent and to overindulge in certain vices more than we might otherwise. He even mused on these drawbacks in The Sun Also Rises.
But even considering the obstacles and potential pitfalls, choosing to spend time abroad can be hugely beneficial in a number of ways. Here are 12 quotes about the unique opportunities and challenges of living life abroad.
Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.Hannah Arendt
Traveling and being in foreign cultures has always been really stimulating for me … I like going to a place where I don’t know the world and I don’t necessarily know the way that it works and figuring it out.Joshua Marston
Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.Jodi Picoult
Leave home, leave the country, leave the familiar. Only then can routine experience — buying bread, eating vegetables, even saying hello — become new all over again.Anthony Doerr
The loneliness of the expatriate is of an odd and complicated kind, for it is inseparable from the feeling of being free, of having escaped.Adam Gopnik
When you move from one country to another you have to accept that there are some things that are better and some things that are worse, and there is nothing you can do about it.Bill Bryson
Life might be difficult for a while, but I would tough it out because living in a foreign country is one of those things that everyone should try at least once. My understanding was that it completed a person, sanding down the rough provincial edges and transforming you into a citizen of the world.David Sedaris
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.James A. Michener
This insider-outsider dichotomy gives life a degree of tension. Not of a needling, negative variety but rather a keep-you-on-your-toes sort of tension that can plunge or peak with sudden rushes of love or anger … Everyday incidences elevate into moments of clarity simply because they would never, ever happen in your old home.Sarah Turnbull
The ideal place for me is the one in which it is most natural to live as a foreigner.Italo Calvino
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.Terry Pratchett
If I'm an advocate for anything, it's to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in somebody else's shoes — or at least eat their food — it's a plus for everybody.Anthony Bourdain
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