Being international is a mindset and a lifestyle

view from an airplane over land, international

What motivates people to travel abroad and live in a different country varies from person to person, but there are some common reasons that drive them to take the first steps.

For example, some people may relocate to a new place to pursue an academic qualification or to undertake an expatriate work assignment. However, the decision to move away from the home country is first initiated by personal expectations of what the international experience will bring to the self, such as the desire to satisfy a sense of adventure, to achieve financial stability or to further develop the professional career.

For younger generations, studying abroad is a common option to have an international experience because they can earn a degree whilst exploring a new place and its culture at the same time. Where to study depends on many aspects, such as monetary means and personal preferences. Nonetheless, some countries are often more popular than others. In the European Union, for instance, Germany was the most favored destination for students from abroad pursuing a master’s degree or equivalent qualification in 2018, followed by the United Kingdom, Austria and France.

As well as the career capital gained from the time spent abroad, people’s decision to leave their home country to relocate abroad may be motivated by their way of looking at the world. Being international is a mindset that relates to how the concept of home is experienced by the individuals as the emotional boundaries between places are eliminated. Being international is also a lifestyle created by the individuals’ global mobility which is sustained by the establishment of a network of like-minded people.

Studying abroad is a great opportunity to meet others who share a similar experience and lifestyle. In and outside the classroom students are presented with many opportunities to interact with their international peers as well as with locals from the country. In addition, the academic institution may offer career events and workshops for the students to meet professionals in their field of interest. These are valuable occasions to make connections and set the foundations of the professional network for the future, after completion of the study programme, as the graduates are ready to enter the labor market.

The high levels of people studying and working abroad means that the professional network is constantly on the move. In 2018, for example, 8.3 per cent of the total of those employed in the European Union were non-nationals, of which half were non-EU citizens. The population of international students and working professionals is changing as a result of the fluctuations within the corporate world of business. Entering this sector at an early stage may increase the chances of being able to be part of the transformations, by identifying the gaps in the job market and choosing to pursue an academic degree in demand.

The motivation to take the first steps on the journey of being international comes from within the individual, reaching beyond the boundaries of the homeland to seek further education and adopting a mobile lifestyle to continue to access the benefits that it generates.

About the author

Dr Gabriela Whitehead joined the GISMA team in October 2019 as Head of Digital Transformation and Process Management. She works on data integration and decentralization to optimize the databases, systems and processes used across all departments and services at GISMA Germany.

Gabriela holds a PhD and an MSc in Communication, Media and Marketing with a specialization in Employee International Mobility. Gabriela pursued both degrees as a remote student while starting a family and relocating internationally several times.

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