When you first move abroad, you likely focus on learning new things and meeting new people. It is exciting, nerve-wracking, and invigorating to be able to leave all the things about your old life behind. There is so much that you won’t even realize you will learn though.

Here are eight truly important skills that you will be developing while living abroad that will help you throughout your life.

Communication and ingenuity

While you will learn to speak English with ELS, you will also learn the ability to communicate and understand others without the use of spoken language. It’s amazing what creativity you can utilize when you are in a world where you don’t speak the language. In turn, you’ll also be connecting with others and seeing the amount of effort humans will put forth for each other.

Problem-solving and determination

When you find yourself in a new environment where you don’t have all the processes, systems, and accommodations you’re used to, you’ll discover how adaptable you truly are. Students living abroad are the kind of people who demonstrate determination and problem-solving over and over again.

Cultural context

While living in a different country, you’ll be immersed in a new culture. Sometimes you can relate to elements of this culture, and sometimes it’s difficult. You may find things fascinating at first, but eventually, find the experience difficult because you are unfamiliar with the context. If you’re determined to make your stay abroad enjoyable, you may want to start asking questions about historical context and ideological perspectives to help you gain a better understanding of the new culture.

Flexibility and patience

Anyone who has traveled or lived abroad will tell you that things don’t always go as planned. But being humble and maintaining flexibility and patience will always benefit you. You will become an expert in this area and it will serve you for the rest of your life.

Empathy

One of the greatest skills you’ll obtain while living abroad is empathy. Learning about the culture you’re immersed in, and becoming invested in people who may look and think differently than you will help develop your ability to step outside of yourself and put yourself into someone else’s position. This skill will benefit you for the rest of your life, and it will benefit those around you because we’re all a little different from each other.

Networking

Do you need to go to the doctor? Do you need someone to help you with translation? Are you failing to understand a situation in your new country? Do you need help with homework? Networking--creating a web of people you can contact when you need something, or you want to know more about something--is something you will learn. You don’t have your normal support system from home, so you’ll have to start developing relationships with those around you.

Importance of support

Being forced to network, you come to appreciate the support system you had at home. You may be in a position to begin to really value your home country and the people there. Being without something often spotlights how much it truly means to you. Those phone calls or Skype calls home will become much more important to you, and your loved ones will appreciate it.

How to be with yourself

    The single most important skill you learn while living abroad is how to be with yourself. Developing a relationship with yourself is the best thing you can do to benefit your future and a way to find contentment.

    When you move abroad, you will not only learn a language that will serve you in school, business, and travel, but you will develop life-long skills that are immeasurably valuable. Those of you considering living abroad: take the chance and be proud of yourself!