There are plenty of reasons that are already well known to praise the working or studying abroad—it’s a great experience and you get to travel. But there is so much more to going abroad than those basic advantages.
When I decided that I wanted to work abroad so I just Googled different options. When I stumbled upon AIESEC, it literally seemed to offer everything that I was looking for. AIESEC is offered in over 113 countries and offers such as different work experiences from great companies and organizations. I went to an information meeting in Vancouver and from there it became the greatest decision I have made so far.
Choosing to work with a placement organization: During my first internship in Istanbul, I was a little nervous to go into another country on my own but those fears were instantly taken away when I arrived. I was greeted by a group from my internship organization at the airport at 2:00 am even though my flight had been delayed hours; they had all patiently waited for my arrival. With varying degrees of English, I was warmly greeted by everyone and taken to my new host.
Despite the late hour, they got me food for us to share and get to know each other. It was the best way to arrive to a new country all alone. During the next couple weeks, AIESEC Istanbul took care of all the interns by introducing us to the city by weekend tours and group activities. We were able to bond quickly and be introduced to the city and the culture. I didn’t know it was possible to become like family with strangers within a couple weeks but from now a piece of my heart will always be with Istanbul.
Experiencing life with a host family: Depending on your internship or program, many times you will live with a family in your host country and during my first internship, I was lucky enough to be able to live with the most wonderful two people I have ever met. My host family in Istanbul took me in as a family member and made me feel at home when I was thousands of miles away from my homeland. My host family took me to amazing locations off the tourist path, where I tried authentic Turkish food and saw different areas of the city. They welcomed me into their life with movie nights, family dinners, and outings around the city, exploring, and experiences that were impossibly amazing.
My most cherished memory with my host family waking up on my birthday to having them surprise me with a homemade tiramisu cake. It made my birthday so special and memorable to be able to spend it with my Turkish family.
Near the end of my journey, we went to Cappadocia in central Turkey, where we were able to see the remarkable beauty of an eroding land. This trip was so special because, it felt like I was taking a trip with my family.
Working abroad gives more than professional growth—it creates personal growth as well: I had always wanted to work abroad. I believe that in today’s market you need to be different in your skills and that having global work skills would improve my resume.
I was drawn my first internship in Istanbul because it was a social project that was able to have a great impact on society and it would help me develop better presentation skills as a professional. As I left home, my social anxieties increased. I didn’t know it was possible for me to not be shy around others, when I told people that I was actually painstakingly shy during my first internship, people looked at me like they were shocked. Was it so easy to get over my fears? Yes and no, I learned how to push myself outside my comfort zones at all times and it really helped me grow.
It wasn’t until I had arrived for my second internship in Poland completely alone that I had realized how much I had changed. I was never the person before who would go off to a country to live there all alone but I had finally done it and it was amazing. I have let go of many personal fears of mine, it is liberating.
Working overseas bring adventure: What I have learned from this experience is that so much unexpected can happen and the world can be a very small beautiful place. Joining an internship organization allowed me to meet such a different assortment of people and we all had such core ideas as our similar qualities that bonded me with each person, most of it was that we wanted something more. I had everything from small adventures that lasted a few hours in a city to trips across countries that changed so much with so little.
Being abroad can show you a different way of life: When arriving to Krakow in Poland, I came alone and agreed to live in a dorm because it was cheaper and I never had before. Adjusting to life in a dorm can be quite a shock, especially for someone who has lived on their own for a very long time. I was not used to sleeping in the same room as other people, sharing a bathroom and kitchen with hordes of others. At first, it seemed like an awful way to live, all crammed into rooms with people you don’t know and during my first couple weeks there was the language barrier. Many people seemed interested in improving their English in conversation; others just ignored my English-speaking ways like the plague.
After a couple weeks I was able to meet some amazing Polish people that now are some of my best friends in the world; they not only showed me Krakow but a different way of living. It showed me what living closely with others like a community is like. We had tea time, where we would meet to just enjoy tea and conversation and sometimes this would turn into hour discussions about life. We had family-style dinners in our dorm room, where one person would cook for everyone.
Being in a dorm is clearly different than living on your own, your sense of privacy goes away but also it makes you more open and sharing as a person. I never knew before living in a dorm that the neighbor system was real, that you could literally go next door and ask for a cup of sugar, which really existed during my time in Krakow.
Going abroad will be a different experience for everyone, even going from Istanbul to Krakow it was different but both cities made for a great six months of my life than I can never forget and even now I can see the changes it made in my life. My internship was a great way to grow professionally and have a great life experience and it really changed my outlook for my future, plus it never hurts to have a international group of colleagues to network with.