“Travel changes you, As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you.” – Anthony Bourdain

I just came to realization that the person I was 2 years ago is very different from who I am now. I am going to give New York credit for those drastic changes, yet it could have been any city in the world, really. Just the fact of moving from one country to another can have an explosive impact on you, whether you settle in a new place, continue to travel on the road or return back home. 

Here are 5 essential things that happen when you move to another country:

1. You learn that it is okay to relax and just have fun. I am an avid adept of goal setting and “hard work conquers it all philosophy, but once in a while everyone needs time to rewind. First three months in the new city feel like a long holiday, There is such an intense feeling of freedom and openness to new experiences combined with strong desire and evident need to find new friends that you inadvertently wind up meeting a lot of different people. Those people have different backgrounds and they can introduce you to new ways of having fun. Plus they have no idea about your background either. 

What I considered fun in Moscow implied going to a movie and sipping coffee at the french bakery with my family or girlfriends on the weekends. I mean it is still a very pleasant and respectable way to relax, but drinking at the bar and dancing all night long is just as if not more entertaining.  

2. Your confidence level and ability to handle any social situation skyrocket through the rooftop. Surely, we all evolve and gain social skills in our home countries: first in college and then at work, but what takes 2 years in your country, takes 6 months abroad. Sometimes you can’t help yourself but walk into a party alone and, I assure you, it is the best skill you will ever attain in such a natural way. 

Living in a place other than your home country is an impressive achievement by itself. After all, millions of people dream about it. If you did it, you already feel like the world conquerer. 

3. You learn that the world is small and, surprisingly, is no different to any other part of the world. I live in New York which is 8 hours flight from Moscow. What seemed like mysterious terra incognita and the other end of the world two years ago now is merely another big city. The perspective of spending 8, 10, or even 16 hours on the plane stops worrying you, and you become eager to hop on the bus, train or plane whenever you have the chance, without all that onerous planning. Planning is actually important as it allows to save money, but it is ok to go with the flow once in a while.

The flip side of the coin is that you do fall into routine eventually. The people and buildings, that used to be beautiful and cute two years ago, are now categorized as “typical American”, and the euphoria, previously bolstered by the notion of novelty, is wearing off. It is the inadvertent process of adaptation that helps us stay sane and focused on our goals. 

4. You become a self reliant, independent person. Not having your family and friends, as well as their expectations around you, is a terribly empowering and transformative feeling. Not only does it inspire you to try new things and build unusual social connections, but also puts you into vulnerable position of having no one to rely on. You realize that the outcome always depends on you. You obtain the ability to adapt and find innovative solutions to problems. Making bold moves becomes your second nature. You never settle with anything that does not satisfy your standards, instead you find a clever way to overcome obstacles and get exactly what you wanted or planned for. 

5. You become closer to your family and friends at home. The whole 8 hour flight thing miraculously repairs relationships and brings the family together. For me it made me realize that I will have to take charge of my family some day and had me draw out of a plan of how to accomplish that, which I am not sure will work out. However I am seeing it as a definitive sign of a mature person. 

The major outcome of moving to another country is growing up and becoming a better person professionally, emotionally and intellectually. Ultimately, it is a fearless self discovery journey, that you will never regret and that will lead you to revision of goals and priorities along with dramatic character development.