Exeter, Devon UK • Feb 22, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home International How does living in another country change you as a person? 

How does living in another country change you as a person? 

Mathias La Pira discusses the idea of belonging, after moving away from home and deciding to live and study in England.
3 mins read
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Image: Derek Harper via Wikimedia Commons

When I first came to Exeter, I had no idea what to expect from my new life in a foreign country. Moving to England didn’t seem hard to me at first (although I’ve always lived in Paris) but the idea of starting university away from home seemed bizarre to me. I was not sure what to make of this experience. On the other hand, I was in an adventurous mindset, I decided to see what England had to offer and to discover myself again at the University of Exeter. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months, I began to notice subtle, yet profound changes within myself. 

Living in another country, especially as a student, really helped me to shape my character, who I am and my vision on so many aspects of my young life. For example, the constant exposure to a different culture and adapting to this cultural shift becomes more than essential for one’s survival. Whether it’s adjusting to new traditions, social norms, or even the way in which people communicate, you find yourself constantly learning and evolving. At the beginning, I thought that I was going to have to adapt myself a lot to the British culture, but not necessarily. I’ve met so many great people at the university, both British and international students, but that didn’t mean that I had to decide to identify with one specific group. Your national identity doesn’t have to change according to the place you are living in, it is crucial to understand we are individuals, and our sense of belonging can come from deeply rooted traditions or upbringing. Immersing yourself in various cultures can prove confusing but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t have to change who you are, and you just have to stay true to yourself. 

Whether it’s adjusting to new traditions, social norms, or even the way in which people communicate, you find yourself constantly learning and evolving

 Also, it’s very important to realise that being away from home forces you to become more independent and self-reliant. From managing finances to organising your schedule, every aspect of your daily life becomes a lesson. I definitely found myself gainingmore confidence in making decisions and facing challenges head-on, knowing that I couldn’t rely on direct support from my family and had to deal with any problems like an adult.  

I think it’s very important to understand that living abroad gives you an opportunity to build a diverse group of friends and a network of contacts. These connections can be invaluable both personally and professionally. Many people I’ve met throughout the years helped me, whether as friends or colleagues, giving me possibilities for the future. Living in another country transforms you in ways you might not have anticipated. It’s not just about the academic or professional experience; it’s about personal growth, adaptability, and a broader understanding of the world we live in.  

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