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Thinking Outside the Box: A note about international life

By Michelle Taylor

If you have ever visited Madam Tussaude’s Museum in Bangkok, you might have seen Angelina Jolie’s wax statue and the quote: “If you don’t get out of the box you've been raised in, you won’t understand how much bigger the world is”. Despite being born and raised in Los Angeles, even Angelina Jolie felt the confines of a “box” around her and the message is: get out of it.

The thing is, most societies force these limits on the people; even the very open-minded ones. In Sweden they have an expression that says: “Den spik som sticker upp måste man hamra ner!” meaning the nail that sticks up must be hammered down. Well, I would say if you are not supposed to stick out and be different from others within your society, move abroad and be yourself there.

Jolie’s statement especially caught my attention because I have felt the same way ever since I left my country of origin. For me, the only way to get out of the box I was forced in was to move abroad. As it was my reason for moving, I thought this may have been the motivation for other international people.

The experiences of international life are priceless. You get to meet lots of other risk takers who have left home, travelled most of their lives and seen most of the countries on this planet. You get to interact with interesting locals who have different perspectives about life and you get to consider and appreciate many different cultures that you have not come across before. The stories that your international friends share with you, open you up to a completely different way of viewing life in general and, you never know, these stories may make a lasting impact on the rest of your life.

I am not saying there are no downsides to expat life. Being homesick is the worst of all. That’s why celebrating international days are important. Not only do you get to tell the people about your culture, but you also have the chance to do things the way they do at home; like baking a cookie from your country, making a piece of art, practise a little dance or even play a game. This is the day to embrace and celebrate the international life.