There are plenty of good reasons for living abroad – a change of perspective, chasing the seasons to escape dreary weather back home or to pursue the kind of work or study that just isn’t available in your native land. However, one of the most enduring rewards of upping sticks and relocating is the effect that living abroad can have on your intelligence. Simply put, new surroundings and new challenges exercise your brain: and science has the figures to prove it.
For a start, you may notice while living abroad that your problem-solving capabilities come on leaps and bounds. Freed from your habitual solutions and remedies, the brain is forced to make unprecedented cognitive leaps. Students given a common cognitive performance test fared better if they had lived abroad: 60% of the travellers solved the puzzle, compared to just 42% of those who’d stayed at home.
The social challenges that expat life poses can be beneficial, as you are forced to develop new communication skills, patience, and ingenuity to co-operate with those who have a different language and culture. Learning a second language has been shown to change the very shape of the brain, improving cortical thickness – the neurons in charge of thought, memory, and consciousness. Leaving your home can be a lonely experience, but seeing yourself in a new environment raises self-awareness and forces you to make new social connections that would otherwise pass you by.
If you feel like your professional or creative development is stunted, and your inspiration has faded even more than last summer’s tan, it could be time to look for opportunities abroad. Check out this insightful new infographic, which lays out six proven ways in which a move abroad could sharpen your intellect and help you reach your true potential.
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