When I was growing up I always just assumed that I would stay in my neighborhood, I would find a job, meet a girl and get a nice house here in St Louis. For John Eilermann St Louis was not the place where he thought that he would spend his life and at the age of 25 my ld school buddy decided that he would head off to live abroad. This was something which both shocked me and really inspired me and over the years I would listen to his stories about where he was living and what he was up to and I have to confess, I did start to get a bit jealous.
I was greatly inspired by John to do something similar and live abroad for a couple of years, and I am so glad that I did. I, like John am back in St Louis now, and here is why I would urge anyone reading this to also try giving abroad for a time.
When you grow up, work and live in the same place that you have always known, everything is easy for you and you never really need to ask many questions. In the case of living abroad however, everything changes and life is far more difficult that it was back home. This really teaches you about yourself and your ability to adapt to strange situations. Having now returned I understand just how valuable this lesson was for me.
Open Your Mind
I believe that a great number of the social justice issues which we have in the world right now are as a result of people not looking to broaden their horizons and understand that there is a wider world out there. When you head abroad, no matter if you go to a wealthy country or a poor one, you meet different people from different walks of life, all of whom have a story to tell. This opens your mind up and it teaches you a little more about empathy and compassion.
I look back now with a genuine sense of achievement at the fact that my wife and I were able to head off abroad, live in another nation, learn the language and the culture and customs. Here is a genuine sense of pride which I honestly didn’t know that I would feel When I talk to my kids about it now I really do so with an overwhelming feeling of having actually achieved something. This may not have felt this way at the time, but it most certainly does right now.
Ultimately what John taught me was just how exhilarating and fun it would be to live in another country, what I wasn’t aware of however was just how big an impact it would have on my life and how much I would truly love that particular period of my life. I’m happy to be back and thrilled that I went away.