I have only just recently spent 9 months living in a foreign country: The United Kingdom. England, to be more specific. Objectively, nine months aren’t that long, but to me it felt like a whole decade despite the time flying by at the speed of light.

Arguably, this is to do with so many things happening in a relatively short time span, and I think that these 9 months have changed and moulded some aspects of my personality significantly.

To illustrate this a little, I am going to explain in five reasons and based on my experience why going abroad is a great way of evolving as a person.

Disclaimer: By no means you have to go travelling to evolve and develop as a person. However, for me it was a great way of doing so.

You become an independent problem solver

This already starts before even having boarded the plane. There are ridiculous amounts of organisation that nobody can be arsed doing but unfortunately have to get taken care of nonetheless. Loads and loads of paperwork, looking for suitable accommodation, getting registrations and insurance sorted, planning a budget, managing the finances and finally booking tickets for travel and packing the suitcase (or suitcases to be more truthful). Managing all this and knowing I'm able to prepared me perfectly for the time I actually spent abroad and future adventures. Though having to drag around two bulky suitcases while carrying a fully loaded backpack and breaking a sweat as well as almost my back as a result is a challenge I'm fine with having done once in my life. Light packing or I'm not going is my new principle now.

Admittedly, it is tempting to rely on the help of others when doing the organisational side of travelling or moving abroad, but this will definitely come to an end once you first put your feet on foreign soil. That’s the moment when you know you’ll be on your own now. Every roadblock that comes your way from that point on you will be taking care of yourself. Doing that and realising you have the capacity to live and function without the help of anyone else is pretty exhilarating and freeing.

You make friends all over the globe

This one is awesome. When you go travelling for a longer period of time, it is inevitable to meet new people from many different countries. During the time I spent in England I made friends with amazing people from Spain, France, Norway, Chile, Australia, Canada, USA and of course the UK.

It is honestly mental how much you learn from encounters with different people, and it’s great to have pals splattered all over the world. Whenever I’ll go visit these countries I will know someone there, which makes me feel a lot more connected to other parts of the world. Not to mention the fact that it is super convenient to have someone show you around ;-)

You will broaden your horizons

Meeting people from all over the globe wasn't just a cool experience, it has also taught me some things. Although it goes without saying that all humans are the same regardless of their origin, it is nice to actually experience and validate it. Of course, we discovered a few little differences in our international friend group (Aussies, for example, are rubbish at ice skating) but essentially, we were all the same: students who love necking pints in the pub and chatting shite.

It’s not just the people I met along the way, though. Living in a foreign country and getting to know a different culture left me little to no choice but to become more open-minded. For once, I found myself in the position of “the foreigner”, having to adapt to my host country’s customs, which gave me a new outlook on people coming to my own country and a lot to think about.

You will also be given a chance to take over a completely different perspective. For example, no one in Germany would ever be able to fully understand, let alone convey what it feels like to be at the receiving end of the Brexit. (Except for nationalised Brits, but going out on a limb here I'd say their feelings towards Brexit are rather obvious anyway.) While the news do provide a broad spectrum of information, they could never really substitute for the vantage point of a British person. Coming to the UK and hearing people's stories as to why or why not they have voted leave added a lot of value to my own perspective.

You learn new things about yourself

Travelling pushes you. And being pushed to your limits brings out new sides in you. You might learn that you’re much more resilient than you thought you were, and problems that seemed like mountains to you before turn into small inconveniences, at best. In the same way travelling causes you to develop new characteristics it also forces you to leave some old ones behind, narrow-mindedness being just one of them.

Here are some things that changed for me in a positive way:

  • I don’t feel the need to own a lot of clothes anymore. I still buy stuff and I’m by no means a minimalist, but I realised that less clothes make me happier. Because of the limited choice I had in England, I didn’t spend hours on end trying on different outfits every day. That might seem awful to some people (including pre-England-Wanda who, after arrival, realised she'd only packed what seemed like two knickers, three t-shirts and one pair of trousers), but once you realise that less clothes mean less stress, you never want to bulk buy again. Besides, investing in high-quality and more sustainable clothes does not only you a huge favour but also the environment.

  • I am way more decisive now and find it easier to focus on the right things. When there’s more exciting and important things happening in your everyday life, then you don't want to waste your precious time on mundanities like spending three hours in a shop deciding what colour trainer you’re going to buy just to go back the next day and exchange them for the other one (the choices I had were cream-white and off-white, by the way). I used to be the worst person when it came to making decisions, but my year abroad has made me see that life is way too short to spend hours thinking about things that don't really matter at the end of the day.

  • I have become more confident and self-assured. Not just in terms of organisation but also in regards to what I want and certainly don't want in life for the next, say, five years. I have always been a pretty confident person anyway, however, this type of confidence is not about proving it to the world but rather knowing that you can always rely on yourself in difficult situations and that you only really need yourself to make it. Which is pretty cool.

A friend of mine went to London during the same time I was in Exeter and came back a different person. Since people are as different as can be, everybody's experience will be a different one, everybody will change and evolve in different aspects of their personalities. But the outcome is the same: a stronger, more confident and potentially happier person.

You get to come back

Usually, part of going abroad is to return home. I'm not going to lie, when I was about to leave the UK, the thought of going back (which meant leaving behind a fantastic time) made me extremely sad. Paradoxically, though, coming home can be one of the best parts of going away. Seeing your friends and family again and giving them a big hug after a long time of being far out of reach has got to be one of the best feelings in the world.

That's when a wonderful time starts and all of the welcome-back-proseccos are being poured and the we've-missed-you-dinners are being had. Essentially, it is a time everybody treats you like you're the pope himself, which is pretty great, let's be honest. And if you have awesome friends like I do, chances are you will even get thrown an amazing surprise party! I was visiting my parents when last Saturday, my friends turned their garden into a cute little summer-party-oasis while my mum was taking me out for dinner to get me out of the way. Being the gullible idiot that I am, it absolutely took me by surprise when I walked in to see them all standing in the fully decorated garden.

I feel very loved and eternally blessed, and I would like to take this moment to say thank you and to dedicate this post to all the lovely people who went out of their way to help surprise me and be a part of the celebrations. I love you all.

As I was saying in the beginning, travelling isn't the only way to achieve enlightenment, and the purpose of this blog post is not to make people who don't want to travel feel bad about themselves. I simply want to share my personal experience.

I am unbelievably grateful for this opportunity and beyond glad I took it. If you ever get the chance to go abroad for a longer period of time, definitely consider the option because it will change you in ways you'd never expect!

Any travel experiences? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!