Why You Should Work Abroad
Work. If anything was ever more hated and more essential to who we are as humans, I’m not sure what it would be. There’s no escaping the truth we were made to work. To give ourselves to something, to earn our keep, to justify our breathing, to contribute to the ongoing existence of earth and all her inhabitants. It’s expected of us, it’s needed for our survival, it’s shared by those in the scroll of history. Work and us go together.
But what work looks like is for us to discover.
We get to find the best way to give our time and energy and skills back to the world. There’s a whole score of influences which dictate our choices of how and where and why and what we work at. The way I see it, if you’re going to work, if you get to choose, why not make it something you can enjoy, at least to some degree. Something that will challenge and excite and provide new opportunities. Something outside the conventions set by those for whom work is a dirty word.
Something exotic, maybe?
I’m not sure if you know it or not, but there are countries all over the world. In these countries, people are looking for other people to work at different things. People just like you. They want what you have to offer, be it teaching, engineering, dentistry, accounting, or a strong back. You’ve just got to go and find them. Honestly, that’s the most difficult part right there.
Where have you always wanted to go? What’s stopping you? You don’t have to go for forever, but finish this article and start making plans. Do what you always said you would but let other choices and excuses come between your words and your resolve.
Then we can start talking about the why question.
We all need money to survive. Mercifully, the powers that be created a system where our efforts are compensated. If you’re going to chase your dreams of seeing the world, working is a great avenue to making that a real possibility. It means you don’t need to fear getting stuck in Yemen, surviving on one grain of rice a day, or not being able to pay off some off your current debt while globetrotting. Overseas travel isn’t all Pina Coladas poolside while you soak up the sun.
Or is it?
Attitude is everything. So is perspective.
So is the availability of coconut.
Working abroad not only helps you survive while you travel but prolongs your ability to do so. Our world has many lessons to teach, many secrets to share, and many surprises up her celestial sleeve. As long as you procure the proper visas for where you’re headed, a life of increased adventure and diverse experiences is waiting for you to show up. Working abroad gives you the freedom to choose that path and opens up the possibility for many other paths.
No need to stop gaining experience benefitting your future career goals just because you want to go abroad. Maybe your current company can offer an overseas transfer. Maybe there is a severe lack of professionals in your industry in Turkey or Argentina or Taiwan. Or maybe you’re looking for something completely different. Being open to the needs of a country or city can greatly increase your chance of getting a job there, though it may not look anything like you think it will.
But what’s wrong with that?
Whatever job you land, there is every chance for you to gain new skills, improve old ones, build upon your resume, and increase your references. A foreign workplace? Very impressive, Mr. Gorenflo. Is this the calling code for France? We’ll just go ahead and give you an A+ on character reference.
Even if the work you do is in no way what you want to be doing in two year’s time, this is a chance for you to add to your abilities arsenal while snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef on the weekends. That’s nothing to shrug at.
Just think of the alternative.
When in Rome, right? What better way to share in the culture of the locals than obliging yourself to the same obligations they hold? All manner of opportunity presents itself when it’s everyday people doing everyday living. There are stories for you to hear you couldn’t hear unless you are doing the work you’re doing. Same is true for the relationships you build. They wouldn’t happen any other way. And those relationships can very well shape both your character and future.
Working abroad lends us the sense of purpose and drive we were talking about earlier. Talk to anyone who has been unemployed for any moderate to great lengths of time and you’ll quickly hear the desperation to know there is a place they belong, they are wanted, and they can contribute. While not defining us, work is good for our sense of worth. If, when you travel, you find yourself lacking a certain drive to make the most of each day, work can be a needed vaccine.
But these three words are the ones that really get me: who’s to say?
Who’s to say where this job will take you, what kind of a network you will create, and whose eyes your proven abilities will catch? When you give your best and take some initiative, mighty forces conspire to aid you in fulfilling the deep-set needs of your heart, and through you, bless the lives of others. But that only happens when you show up and are in the game. The unpredictability of it all makes for great stories you’ll be telling for as long as you have breath.
In my travels abroad I have been on sheep farms clearing trails, on lifestyle blocks painting houses and digging ditches, pulling weeds and planting seeds in garden after garden, teaching class to teenagers, driving drunk people home from the bar, pushing trolleys in a fish factory, and helping a guy run his own barbeque business from a food van. I also joined the talented and dedicated Reach To Teach team doing what I love to do most: write.
Some jobs I’ve liked more than others. Some were done simply to survive. And some are pathways to my destiny. In each opportunity, I have experienced what I believe is an essential aspect of my narrative. Each one has led me to this place today, to sharing these words with you. Each one matters. Who am I to say otherwise?
More importantly, each job I tuck away in my previous experience as well as each job waiting for me is right where I need to be at the time. This is where I can give myself. This is the small way I can make this world better for others. This is where I join in the life happening all around me.
Why work abroad?
Why wouldn’t you?