Abroad While Black: GK Life Lessons is a custom list that we created to highlight some of the advantages and benefits of living and/or working abroad while black. The list will continue to grow regularly, so don’t forget to check for updates.
In the last few years, an unprecedented number of black millennials have hopped on international flights and discovered parts of the world their parents had never even heard of, let alone considered traveling to. Social media sites have emerged with images of black travelers doing some of the most stuntastic things you can imagine while on vacation: that one guy dabbing while on a camel ride in the Sahara dessert, or those girls whose entire clique was in formation while posing on the highest summit in the Himalaya’s wearing #blackgirlmagic t-shirts. We could go on.
However, living and/or working abroad for an extended period of time is still somewhat of an uncharted territory for most blacks. If you happen to be the type of black person who was courageous enough to fly across the world to take on that one-year assignment for your firm, or start an International Business masters degree at a South Korean university, you’d be hard pressed to find other black folks doing the same thing. The good news is, we are definitely outchea, just hard to find.
The next time you find yourself in a rut where you are either unenlightened, unchallenged, unhappy, or unproductive, we’d recommend leaving for a while. Here’s why:
2. You will learn to appreciate where you come from.
Take whatever “ism” you are tired of experiencing in the United States be it racism, sexism, capitalism, corporatism, favoritism, etc., then find yourself in other parts of the world for more than just a vacation. You will soon learn that whatever element(s) you are sick of, which seems so typical of the American experience is also prevalent in said foreign country. The human condition of being imperfect, greedy for power, and susceptible to corruption is everywhere. There is no single place that handles these issues better or worse than others, just differently. These differences largely depend on a few things, especially the following:
- How people respond to the limitations placed upon them
- The tools at their disposal to combat those limitations
- The influential leaders they have to advocate for them
Being a temporary observer to the dynamics of a foreign country inevitably strengthens you to face those in your native country, or at the very least, how to view them in a different light. When you are able to experience things outside of your norm, it reshapes your perception of normal and your worldview starts to change. If the grass appears to be greener on the other side, consider the idea that there is a cost to maintain it.