This topic is one of the most idealized and wrongly thought of I know. Working abroad for a longer period as an intern or simply as a summer job waitressing in some restaurant can´t be compared to anything at home, expecially when you go alone. But why?
Because it puts you so much out of your comfort zone as nearly anything else ever will.
I worked in Italy for a summer when I was sixteen, and in Ireland for three and a half months the following year. During this time, I´ve learned a few things I will never forget for my whole life.
The first an most important one is:
NEVER GIVE UP…
The day you leave home will leave you with mixed feelings. What should I expect? How is it going to be? Will there be nice colleagues helping me?
And when you finally arrived at your new home for the next couple of months and your first working day starts, you need such an incredible amount of courage to start. Step into your newly bought shoes, check your hair one last time in the mirror and off you go!
The first couple of days are always the hardest, especially when you are in a country where another language than your mother tongue is spoken. You´ll have to learn everything about your tasks, your colleagues, your boss and so on. You are constantly out of your comfort zone. But exactly during this time, those first few days, you are going to learn so much for your future life. The ability to adapt, to learn and to grow will stay with you forever. My first days in Italy where so hard for me, as my Italian wasn´t the best so far and I had to ask twice until I understood all the instructions. But afterwards, my Italian got really fluent, something I´d never have achieved by studying at home.
Those first days I thought I´ll just give up, take the next train and go back home constantly.
But I didn´t. And that´s where all the fun starts!
So now you already know a few people, you might go for a drink at night with them or they show you around the area, everything is far more easy. You feel comfortable, and then, all the crazy shit starts. In Ireland, me and the other waitress went out to the nearest pub on a Saturday and met so many funny locals, afterwards eating take-away on the rocks by the sea.
On our days of, we tried to explore as much of this amazing country we were in, we walked to the next bus stop for an hour to get to Dublin, Galway, Cork, Belfast and had amazing times there.
There were a few nights when we just played tennis with our boss´s children until way past midnight or inhaled the air of helium balloons until we were crying from laughing!
…UNTIL YOU REACH THE POINT WHERE YOU DON´T WANT TO GO HOME ANYMORE
The last days are always hard again, as you have to leave a home and a family that has become YOUR home and family over the past couple of months. My host mom in Ireland gave me an handmade Irish necklace and the following quote by Miriam Adeney for my departure:
„You will never be completely at home again,
because part of your heart will be elsewhere.
That´s the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one country.“
So that´s what it´s really like to work in another country for a period of time: a rollercoaster of feelings, homesickness and insecurity at the beginning, fun, pure joy and happiness when you start to feel yourself at home and sadness and remorse when you have to leave again.
For me, all of it made me grow personally and learn lessons I would never have learned when staying at home, in my safe comfort zone.
To say it with Brian Adam´s words:
„Those were the best days of my life
Back in the summer of 69“
So which year are YOU going to wirte in there? Are you ready for the best days of your life?