11 Reasons Why Living Abroad is Awesome


I come from NYC, a place many people dream of moving to. But I don’t know what it was. Immediately after college, I moved out to Korea, then back to NYC, then to Japan for two years, back to NYC again and then back to Korea again. It’s been a crazy ride, and I’ve never looked back! I have a decent amount of experience moving abroad in the world’s greatest cities. And if you have the chance to live abroad, I really urge you to do it!

Let’s see if you agree with my reasons why πŸ™‚

1. Falling in Love with a Culture

When you’re new to a culture, you’re like a baby. And just like a newborn, everything’s exciting when it’s new. With culture, you’ll have a good 3 years until you say things are old. Trust me. There’s tons of new things you’ll learn about just by living in another city (like dating, manners, conversations, etc!). It’s a lot of fun for a good while πŸ™‚

2. People Visiting You

You see, the thing is… when you live in another country, people find excuses to visit you. You’ll get homies from junior high school you weren’t even that close with messaging you saying “Long time! Heard you’re living in Bangkok!” You’ll be surprised at the random people that will find a way to visit you (and possibly look for a place to crash!). And it’s all good, yo! It’s always a good excuse to go out and have a good time.

3. OMG the Food!

For me, Seoul has the highest hit rate of food that’s “good.” Nothing world-class, but everything is really solid. New York on the other hand has the extremes: you can eat world-class food, but sometimes you get unlucky with really crappy foods, too. And Tokyo? Hands down, I honestly believe food in Japan is the best food in the world (of course sushi, but also burgers, Korean BBQ, Thai noodles, etc.). I can still taste the first time I had that melt-in-your-mouth Tsukiji Fish Market sushi. Telling you. World class son!

4. Variety in Your Dating

Of course there are different kinds of people in your own country. That’s everywhere. But when you move to a different country, you find that there’s usually country-specific types of men and women found only in your home away from home. Korea has Kpop cuties with aegyo, Japan has Harajuku fashionistas, and New York has brunch-eating white girls that love UGGs! By dating outside your comfort zone, you’ll find that there are more types of people in the world than you ever imagined! (Which btw can make dating pretty complicated :P).

5. Internationalizing Yourself

I lived in New York until I graduated college. And it was the same Asian friends who all knew each other. You know. NYC’s Asian community. If I was stayed, I think I would be living in the same sub-culture that I grew up in. Now don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great to have that community. But I think it’s awesome to learn about a different culture you never knew about in depth. Best part is, you make it a part of you! Even to this day, I still love Japanese eye wash and fold my clothes like a Japanese housewife.

6. The Frank Sinatra Effect

Know that Frank Sinatra song, New York, New York? There’s a line that says “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere!” And when you live abroad, by yourself, without any help from your friends or family, you know you can make it anywhere. It’s very empowering to say that you made it in another country (especially if you came without really knowing the language!). So even if your stay is short-term, you’ll go to your next destination with a confidence other people just don’t have!

7. Bragging Rights

Fine. I’ll admit it. I become brag master whenever I have the chance to mention that I lived abroad. I always stick in a “when I lived in Korea/Japan/New York” mention whenever I can. Leave me alone. It makes me feel good, ok? πŸ˜‰Β Some people don’t ask further. And that’s fine. But when they do, you have no problem telling them about the time you saw a 100 year old turtle on sale in Busan!

8. You Appreciate Home More!

Whenever you’re abroad for an extended period of time, that usually equals missing home. Parents and grandparents get older, and every moment you spend with them becomes that much more precious. Your friends that pick you up at the airport anytime you ask cement themselves as your lifetime homeboys. And food? Don’t even get me started. I miss and love you NYC bagels, ghetto American style Chinese food, Tex Mex (also made by Chinese people), and good ol Halal. Trust me. Anytime you visit home, you’ll have a list of foods you’ll want to eat.

9. Feeling Like a Local

This kind of goes back to bragging rights, but when you feel like a local in a foreign country, you feel good. It definitely takes some time to get to that level. But once you achieve Diablo III level 99 status, you’ll start talking like a tour guide without even being asked. It’s a proud feeling to have a neighborhood best secret in your back pocket that you can bust out whenever anyone asks for suggestions πŸ™‚

10. Meeting Super International People

I’ve met some really culturally diverse people during my time abroad. And I think it’s really awesome. My best friend in Japan studied medicine in the Caribbean, became engaged to his trilingual Japanese girlfriend, and became a doctor in the middle of bumblef*ck Kentucky. A really awesome girl I met in Thailand speaks fluent Mexican Spanish and English (which also happens to be super ghetto). Her best friends are all ladyboys, too! A Japanese friend of mine got married to some French-Vietnamese dude and is now living with a baby on some French farm. My Taiwanese ex is living in Shanghai and dating some half-Chinese Aussie dude. Diversity overload. And I love it!

11. Travel Opportunities

If I continued to live in NYC, I would have never had the chance to travel to Bali, Boracay, Thailand, Shanghai, Hokkaido, etc. Personally, I’ve always been interested in Asia. And had I lived in NYC, it would have been way too expensive to see all that I’ve seen.Β Β So pick where you’re most interested in, and start traveling away. The travel opportunities you have living abroad will be amazing.

Ok, well that’s about it! I love that I’ve had the opportunity for this experience. And I really recommend those that are thinking about it to take the chance! If you’re ever debating moving abroad, just go for it, ok?? πŸ™‚

Well?? What do you think about my list? Leave a comment!

32 thoughts on “11 Reasons Why Living Abroad is Awesome

  1. Tom Gates says:

    This is really a great article. I lived in NYC for 8 (long) years. I agree with many of these things like internationalizing yourself and meeting many people from around the world. Even moreso, I think living abroad really does make you appreciate home a lot more and in ways one can’t know until they’re away.

    Thanks for sharing this.

  2. I’ve been thinking of moving out and living abroad by myself lately and this post couldn’t have popped up at a better moment.

    Keith, can you give me and advice on actually doing it? I’m Japanese and I’m thinking of moving out to Japan. I’m not fluent but I can listen to people and understand them, I just suck at speaking. How was it for you? Finding a job and place to live out there? Did you have help? It would be so cool if you answered because I love seolistic lol!

    • Japan is a little different than Korea. I just picked up and went there. And found a job after landing. Apparently, it’s easier to get a job while physically in Japan (also dependent on the skills you have to offer). Visa sponsorships are also quite common.

  3. Living abroad has been great. I almost made the decision not to live abroad, and the first night I was in Korea, I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life. But turns out, it was one of the best decisions as I’ve met my fiancee here, and traveled to places I’ve wanted to travel to. Great list πŸ™‚

  4. ruri says:

    hello, i’m ruri and my dream is to travel around the word~ i really like point 1, 3 , and 10! and that’s why i’m going to take a test to be a diplomat in the future. there are 3 countries that have a magnet to me south korea, canada, and czech republic~ i wish i could live in those countries in the future~
    anyway i’m from bali, indonesia πŸ™‚

  5. Random person says:

    I thought there were all halal foods available in Korea because of that article DanielKang posted on Seoulistic (halal cooking classes in Bring Korea back home).

    I just noticed that you have two different parts on food: I guess you like food a lot?

  6. Great post! It really sums up alot about living abroad. I’ve always wanted to lived overseas especially to South Korea to learn all about the culture, people etc.. all I need is to pluck up that courage (which I have difficulty finding) and get moving!

  7. cath_okay says:

    I love this post! I’m too locked into my career and marriage to live abroad at this point, but I wish someone kicked my ass to do this when I was younger. I only managed to live in both SoCal and NoCal and thought that was pretty good. I will live vicariously through you international travelers. Where are you going next?!

  8. Carmen says:

    Wow I wish I could do the same. I live in NYC and really want to live abroad and be able to brag like you! I’m actually from NYC (actually grew up in PR born ABC) then moved back to NYC. I’m right now on vacation in HK then I will be going to Seoul in 2 days and I don’t want to go back to NYC! Asia is such a great and fun and exciting country to be! I really have to start finding job opportunities out here! Your post is really encouraging!

  9. For living abroad myself, I totally relate! Every time I go back to France, there’s a bunch of different food I tell my mum to have ready in the fridge. Especially, cheese, wine and delicatessen! hehe

  10. daechoongmama says:

    This post made me want to travel more. I grew up in NY/NJ my whole life, traveled to a lot of different places, now we live in hawaii, but after being married and having kids, traveling is really hard. We go to NJ to visit family and friends once a year and that is the only trip we ever take=T

  11. I have been living in Singapore for all my life but I love travelling and since I was sixteen I have been allowed to travel out to other countries all by myself and yes, even though I am
    Not living abroad, the experiences of making it out there on your own is amazing!! And yes, I am also more interested in the Asia cultures…So…. KOREA, here I come! 8 more days to my big adventure in Korea alone and thank you very much Keith for Seoulistic! Pretty much wanna try every single thing listed there.

  12. i can’t agree more Keith! I haven’t really lived abroad, but I have travelled abroad by myself since I was sixteen and truly. It does give you very much satisfaction being able to survive out there by yourself! And… Since I am also obsessed with the Asian languages and culture…next stop, Korea! In 8 days! All by myself! Thank you so much for Seoulistic! I just wanna try everything on that list (that I can do by myself) haha! Thank you!

  13. Just a quiet Friday at work, I wandered around the internet and accidentally read this Great article! I’m Vietnamese, and I’ve had been working and living in Ottawa, Canada for years. Like Keith mentioned in this article, during the years I’ve lived in Ottawa, I met many friends from over the world, met the nicest local people, and gained wonderful experience and knowledge. I used to be a shy and quiet woman, but not anymore. Living in Canada helps me to be open and social life to everyone, to smile and be friendly whenever I can. Now I feel Ottawa is my second home. I’ve been to some cities in US, but never been to NYC…too bad, so sad. I planned to got there many times, however, when I was supposed to go, there were always something came up. I also like to visit Seoul. Reading your blog makes me want to travel to Korea more.

  14. sherrie says:

    Stumbled upon your awesome blog by coincidence. Had an interesting read on this article, and totally agreed of how living in different countries opens up our lives more than we can think of! Being a Malaysian-Chinese myself, studied in Canada (with occasional trips to NYC), worked in Hong Kong for a few years (with overseas trips for leisure thanks to the cheap air tickets) and last week, just landed myself in Tokyo for a new job. Being able to live in different countries of different cultures is definitely a privilege and experience itself, although there are absurd little things happening here and there! Common question I always get is “Are you sure you want to move to a new country?? It is basically starting from zero again!!”. It’s hard practical matter of fact but then, I asked myself “Will I be regretting it for my whole life if I don’t?” Here, the answer is clear cut!

  15. Jess says:

    so basically im moving to korea and we’re gonna have korean-puertorican-jewish babies and bring them back home to show our fam in nyc? hahahahaha! kiddinnggg (sort of ) but this is dope and i do feel even MORE pumped than i was (after the fear and anxiety pas the truth is, i am so ready)!!!

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