Being “International” is not so cool.

You probably are one of those people who dream about traveling. You dream about working abroad one day and would love to have the chanceto move to another city.

This is not an article to discourage you from doing that but to share my experience and reflect on my international career. I will try to expose here some of the Advantages/Disadvantages of what I call the “international career”

Nowadays thanks to international exchange programs as Erasmus, free mover, transfer student or even Fulbright, some of us are able to do part or all of our studies abroad in another country.

I am one of those. After studying architecture in Paris, I started double engineering in Barcelona then moved to Madrid ending up in San Francisco and London to do my masters. I also worked abroad first as a consultant and then as an entrepreneur.  I consider myself one of those “international” people.

The international opportunity is definitely enriching in many aspects but after talking with some of others friends that like me are trying to concatenate several international experiences we come to the conclusion that there are drawbacks.

1- We can easily adapt to new environments… BUT We don’t feel like we belong anywhere any longer.

Feeling

Home is home this is for sure but we can’t entirely come back. We feel our past life, our “me” is not anymore what it is. You look at people and your environment from another point of view and have this feeling you couldn’t belong there anymore. You have the urge to go for the “next” adventure and meet likeminded people. Also, you’ll start saying things like ” I would like to live in Barcelonawithout the cold of the winter” or ” I like SF but without the homeless and with the public transportation that exists in Sweden”

2- You make a lot of friends… But your friends are all over the world.

Enjoying with lots of freinds

 You do not see your best friends regularly. They are usually in one of their programs of missions are the relationship is more virtual than real. You end up making intense but short relationships that you collect on social media. It is time consuming, expensive and hard to maintain distant relationships.

3- You don’t lack of opportunities… You have too many leads.

Lack of opportunity

It is harder to decide when the opportunities seem to raise from anywhere. Where should I move? For which reasons? All the options seem to be open but how to make the right choice? Who can help me make the right choice? Once you study in a single place and start a career you can follow someone’s career, in our case we do not have a clear example. Our career is not a “follower” one, we have to create new paths.

4-  Going to different universities is so cool… No when you have to validate classes.

work load

If I had to sum up one of the biggest challenges in my life I would say that moving from one university to the other validating the classes in order not to be behind in the program has been the worse. Schools do not facilitate mobility that much and want programs from two universities in two different countries to correspond close to the 100%. We have to remember that for any student going abroad studying a class in a foreign language it is not that easy and that the program will differ for sure.  Any time I had to validate classes it has been a real battle. Finding, taking, passing difficult classes is not as difficult as convincing a professors to decide to validate you a class in your home country. Let’s remember than less than 20% of people of an engineering degree end up working as engineer, the program is therefor not that relevant.

5- Traveling is cool…Not moving from one place to the other and start over.

Travelling

Administrative stuff. If you are like me  you know what it is to have several SIM cards, different postal adress, credit/debit cards everywhere and most of your belongings constantly on eBay. Finding an apartment, flights, packing, moving your luggage etc is a job by itself. It is hard to find stability and calm when you are every year or X time moving to another part in the world. Living constantly out of the comfort zone is challenging, exciting but sometimes exhausting. An international career means that you have to collect as few items as you can if you want to keep traveling. We all know that this is hard and you have sometimes to get rid of things you wish you could have kept.

Those are some thoughts/problems/situations but again I do not regret taking this path in life. I would love to hear your view on them and your own experiences too! 🙂

Thanks for reading and Keep dreaming!

Source : Linkedin