Posted by: Shanie Matthews | March 24, 2010

Broadening Life Living Abroad

An interesting thing that I have learned while living abroad is that your perspective becomes wider. The perception that the new country gives you is like the erosion of a canyon; intense thunderstorms of feelings burst through, eventually tearing apart the layers of societal misconceptions, leaving behind a broader understanding of cultural truth.

While I lived in Germany as a high school exchange student, I learned so many great lessons that my own culture in a small Pacific Northwest town had kept a secret: one being that bringing in an outside view of things was a great way to learn about the way people really are. Not pre-conceived pictures that play in the mind.

The little German village I lived in, Metten, was known for having more cows than people, and its little marble and gold-enhance 400 AD church. I was the first and only foreigner placed in their top level gymansium (kind of like an upper-level high school), yet they accepted me as one of their own. I soon learned that it was OK for girls to show each other friendship by holding hands and they learned from me that not everyone is like the busty girls on Baywatch.

As five years of living in Argentina looms ahead, many priceless life lessons have come my way…but one that keeps ringing over and over is that living abroad is good for all involved, especially if you are coming from a place of kindness. We as a global people can learn that we are all in this together.

If I had my way, I would make it a requirement for all human beings to live in another country other than their place of birth for awhile…some time to step outside of the comfortable box of the known. It is my true belief that if we were to do that, there would be a lot more happiness in the world.

We all love, hate, cry, fear, wonder, wish and dream. And when it comes down to it, we all dream for happiness and love.

No matter what culture we come from.



  1. Perfectly put and I could not agree with you more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They gave me a buzz of collective globalness. 🙂

    • Thanks Minnesota Pilgrim! I really appreciate your comment.

  2. As I’ve mentioned before, I feel much the same way. My times abroad have been invaluable to me and my approach to the world. I think even just being able to live north if you’re a southerner, urban if you’re a rural dweller and vice versa – it all makes a difference. We don’t have to leave our own countries, just to have an eye-opening venture.

    • Hi Chaska,

      Your comment actually inspired me to post this entry…thank you! (:


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