The Brainy Benefits Of Travelling Or Living Abroad

Travelling and living abroad comes with its fair share of adventure, whether you’re headed to a neighbouring nation or trekking to the other side of the globe. As it turns out, overseas experience also comes with the brainy benefit of making you smarter.

Although travelling won’t turn you into a genius (I don’t think), it is a form of mental exercise for your brain which can result in an increase in intelligence. Don’t believe us? Read on to discover 5 ways that travelling and living abroad can make you smarter, and start planning your next trip!

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“Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.” –  Frank Borman

While meeting new people is possible just about anywhere, the variety of individuals you’ll run into during your travels can’t be paralleled by never setting foot outside your hometown. How does meeting so many new people during your travels make you a smarter person? Well, it imparts on you knowledge gained through the experience of interacting with people from other corners of the globe.You’ll become acquainted with people you like, but also meet plenty you don’t. And in these difficult situations where you’re confronted with individuals with whom you don’t see eye to eye, you’ll learn through experience how to manage and yes, even take the high road.

Your social skills will improve, your mind will become more open to people from different cultures, religions, and viewpoints and you’ll understand folks on a bigger, wider scale!

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

Self-sufficiency is a key part of life overseas, especially if you’re braving the great unknown all on your own. The beautiful thing about travel is that the more you do it, the more self-sufficient you become. You never fully realise how able a person you are until you’ve successfully navigated the subway system in Tokyo, or talked your way onto a bus in the French countryside, or managed to haggle a vegetable vendor’s prices down all on your own. These little accomplishments should make you proud and, trust me, the challenges of visiting or living in a new place become much easier to handle the more you travel. Suddenly packing up and moving to Amsterdam isn’t so daunting when you know you were once self-sufficient enough to take a train across China, during Chinese New Year no less!

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“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” –  Anais Nin

When it comes to learning new skills, and getting smarter in the process, nothing will make you learn the way travelling and living abroad can. You’ll be learning something new constantly, whether it’s acquiring the social skills to get along with ten other roommates while staying in a hostel, or picking up the smarts to cook local dishes. One of the best skills I’ve picked up during my years overseas is knowing how to assimilate seamlessly into a new culture. I’ve found that over time it’s become easier and easier for me to interact with new people from different countries and even pick up some of their cultural habits. There are some skills you won’t even realise you’ve learned until you move to a new place or even head back home. Others, like the proper cultural protocol for a Taiwanese wedding, may have obvious learning curves, but they’ll also stick with you for life!

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” –  Rudyard Kipling

Forging your way in a completely new place will force your hand creatively. Experiencing new cultures boosts your creativity and problem-solving skills because a new place can be something of a puzzle that you, as a foreigner, have to try to decipher. When you’re in the throes of trying to blend into a new environment, you’ll find yourself using some pretty creative ways to do so.

You’ll learn to improvise and come up with alternate solutions when faced with uncertain situations, you’ll discover new, creative ways to communicate when there’s a language barrier, and, most importantly, you’ll find inventive methods for adapting to a new country and culture. Once you head back home, your problems will seem less insurmountable and you’ll be able to use the creativity and problem-solving you implemented abroad to more easily find solutions at work, home, and school.

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“Many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.” –  John Steinbeck

Whether or not you travel overseas with the intention of learning a new language, you probably will end up picking up some of the local tongue no matter what. If you’re exposed to a language on a daily basis, you’ll cement some of it, even if you’re not trying. Imagine then, what will happen if you actually put your mind to learning it! Learning a new language is known to be a form of mental gymnastics for your brain and an excellent way to keep yourself mentally healthy (and make yourself smarter). Learning the basics of a language before travelling overseas is also guaranteed to give the locals a much more pleasant impression of you and once you’ve got the basics in hand you’ll be able to add to your language arsenal on a daily basis. You’ll come back surprised at how well you can manage the language and feel proud that you went the extra mile!

Learning a new language for your next trip? Check out our free placement test to see how your level measures up!

What are some of the ways traveling and living abroad has made you smarter? What skills have you acquired during your travels?