Why Everyone Should Work Abroad In Their 20s

Since starting Alice's Antics, I've done my fair share of time abroad, and although a lot of this was holidays and weekend breaks, I also worked in Italy for nearly 8 months as an au pair, in France for nearly 4 months on a holiday campsite, and on Friday, I'm heading back out to France to do the end of the season with the same company.

Both of these experiences were extremely different - in Italy, I was thrown head first into the culture. I had Italian friends, my host family were Italian, I even dated an Italian. I was immersed fully into the culture, and I was encouraged to learn the language and adapt into Italian life. In France, on the other hand, I work for a British company, with mostly British customers, and the majority of my friends were (last year) British. 

Working in a foreign country, especially one where you don't know the language, can be terrifying. I cried my way through customs as an 18 year old, flying out to live with a foreign family in Italy. It's a huge upheaval of everything you know and a lot of the time you can scarcely believe you've done it yourself, but it is without a doubt, the best thing you could possibly do to yourself for a huge number of reasons. 

I would never say I 'found myself' in Italy. God knows, that's still a work-in-progress. But I did come back a different person, and I approached my first year of university more sure of myself than ever before. The likelihood is, you will have to spend a lot of time alone if working abroad, which gives you a lot of time to think about solely yourself, probably for the first time ever. You'll be faced with challenges in everyday life, from communication issues to navigating the foreign town, and although daunting, it sets you up fan-bloody-tastically for later in life when you're thrown head first into the deep end.

Obviously personal growth was going to feature in here at some point, but also, working abroad just gives you a break from the ordinary. The reason I chose to spend the last month of my summer in France was (except for the sun) because I wanted a break from the 9-5 I knew I'd be doing to save up for full time travelling. I've just finished my London job, and am job hunting for another one in the south of England, and I wanted to be doing something, rather than just be sat around applying for jobs from my bedroom. At uni, it's the perfect way to break up terms, or between uni and the real-world, because nobody can just ease their way into a 6am wakeup alarm. 

One of my biggest pet-hates, is when people tarnish a whole country of people with the same brunch. You can only imagine the stereotypes I've heard about the Italians and French. And yes, some Italians are sleazy (just like some British) and some French are rude (just like some British). But working abroad means you get to experience it yourself, first hand, and make up your own mind. Rather than based on a couple of weeks holiday, or that one Italian person you might know at university. The people are always going to be what defines your experience the most, whatever nationality, and working abroad is such a great way to meet a whole range of people you would never have met otherwise, whether colleagues or friends. The friends I made from my time in France last year are still some of my closest friends who I speak to ALL the time. 

Deciding to spend my summers and gap year working abroad, rather than saving up and then going travelling, is still one of my favourite life choices. I feel like I know more about the countries and the people than you could ever learn backpacking through one for a week. If you're still not sure, my final reason for working abroad, is because it can remind you of how much you appreciate home. I know that doing a month in France now, will make me so much more appreciative of coming back home, especially when, if you read my latest blog post, moving back home was a hard life choice to make in the first place.

I'm having a bit of a 'f**k it and go' attitude to life at the moment which may or may not (definitely is) be coming through on my blog. But honestly, working abroad has been up there with the best decisions of my life so far. The people, the countries and the immersive experience is just incomparable. Whether you're thinking about Camp America, or au pairing like I did, it's a unique way to experience life in a country without upheaving your whole life. If you can't do it now, when can you do it? 

Love, Alice x