In 2012 I was in my first year of University and after a couple of rough months I decided to move to America for four months on a J1 student visa, using BUNAC’s Work America Programme as my sponsor.
It had been my dream for as long as I can remember to visit, let alone live in the States, so when I finally had the chance to actually to live in California was possibly one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far.
Although it was a long time ago, my time in America is still something I talk about often so I thought I would share some reasons I think everyone should try to live abroad at least once in their life…
It’s a great way to gain independence | Moving to another country, let alone 5000 miles away, was definitely scary as a 19-year-old but it really allowed me to build on my independence. I had to find a job, find a place to live and pretty much learn everything I could about a foreign country in a really short space of time – and that was just before I left! When I got there I had to make friends, find my way around and completely fend for myself. It was such a great experience in that sense and I can honestly say I grew up a lot while I was there.
You meet the most amazing people | Living and working abroad meant that I got to meet loads of new and interesting people, most of which I still talk to today and consider my closest friends. I met some amazing people while I was there and they all helped me to have the best possible experience I could. They took me to all of the tourist places, their favourite restaurants and all of the secret little gems that you wouldn’t find on a tourist site.
You get to travel | This one is a little bit of an obvious one, but being in California meant there were certain places that were a lot easier for me to get to than when I was living in the UK. I managed to spend a long weekend in Boston and travel to Mexico for a short period of time – two places I wouldn’t have been able to visit anytime soon if I was still back home.
It enhances your CV | In pretty much every interview I have had since I lived abroad I have been asked a lot of questions about it, it definitely gives a competitive edge. The skills and confidence that you gain while living abroad are a great asset to a CV.
You get to try new food | I’m a huge foodie, and living in America gave me the opportunity to try loads of new things, especially when I travelled to Mexico. I discovered lots of new American favourites while I was there (Santa Fe Burgers from Veggie Grill – yes please!) and got to try some of Orange County’s local foods too.
You can learn a new language | You’re probably thinking “what? a new language in America?” Well, some of my roommates were Mexican and they helped me and encouraged me to learn some basic Spanish. I would spend a lot of time with their family, which is when I would pick up certain words or phrases. I even got to go to a Spanish church service, which was so interesting to experience.