A few years ago, I moved into a small town in the South of France to pursue my Masters degree. I was 21 years old; I packed my bags, kissed everyone goodbye, and landed in a place where I knew no one. Of course I had already travelled on my own before, but a vacation has nothing to do with actually living abroad. I ended up working there too, and it turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Here’s why:

1. You learn how to grow independently

The first few days may seem like a vacation because you’ll go out a lot to discover the city and embrace the freedom of being by yourself, but you’ll quickly realize that with independence comes a whole lot of responsibility because, unlike tourists, you are charged with errands and chores.

2. You step out of your comfort zone

Living abroad on your own means leaning only on yourself for everything: from going to the grocery store, to processing paperwork and managing a budget, as well as knowing which bus to take, etc. You forget all the Lebanese comfort you were used to and adapt to a whole new environment.

3. You start cooking

At the beginning of your stay, you’ll have a tendency to eat out a lot. But you’ll come around soon enough when you realize cooking is often the cheaper and healthier option. That’s how I became the queen of pasta.

4. You travel a lot

When studying abroad, the best lessons you’ll learn aren’t from the classes you’ll attend, they’re actually from the people you’ll meet and the places you’ll visit. Immersing yourself in new traditions and customs and traveling around the country and the continent is absolutely incredible, thank you student fares and low-cost airlines!

5. You make lifelong friends

Being far from home, you’ll encounter many different people and cultures, and you’ll make friends who will become your family there. You’ll study, travel, party, cry, watch series, and cook together. And the best part will be when they come to visit you and vice-versa at your home country.

6. You learn new cultures and languages

Though I was a Lebanese living in France, very few of the friends I had there were actually Lebanese or French. I chose to get out of my bubble and be around people I wouldn’t be able to meet back home. Our meet-ups where much like the United Nations of gatherings.

7. You learn what’s really important

From the moment you fit what you were used to call your “home” into a suitcase, you learn what’s really important in your life and it is definitely not the amount of belongings you have. You’ll always end up stockpiling clothes and random things wherever you go, but you will realize that your home becomes the friends you make, the city where your life takes place, and all those memories you will be lucky enough to have.

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and go discover yourself and the world.


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Indeed it was a great experience for you. Love your article

Mona Boustany on Jul 28, 2016 via mobile web
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OMG! Our son is doing exactly this. He is definitely moving out of his comfort zone and moving to Montreal in a few short weeks where he knows noone. I miss him already. God please keep him safe!

Margaret Wood Ghandour on Jul 28, 2016 via mobile web