In the first part, I discussed some of the challenges that scholars face when moving to a foreign country for their research. But it’s not all that bad, once the initial slump of challenges passes.
Researchers move across the globe for obvious professional gains. While improved facilities and infrastructure, projects of interest and international exposure undeniably benefit a scholar’s professional career, there is much to gain beyond that. Difficulties are no doubt part of settling in, but some of the challenges eventually turn into cherished experiences. These experiences are to be lived to understand the impact on one’s self. Excluding the obvious professional bonuses of moving countries, some beautiful takeaways from a foreign stint include:
- Living on one’s own: While most of us live on our own at some point in our academic career, living with the challenges enlisted above makes it a different ball game altogether. After a certain time of adjustment, it becomes a learning experience. Self-reliance for everything is an important virtue that many learn, especially those from countries where cheap labor is easily available. Living away from familiarity makes one comfortable in one’s own company, open to solo-travelling and appreciate the advent of video calling.
- Understanding mindsets: Working abroad debunks many myths and prejudices that we harbor. Work ethics and dignity of labor are far more superior and an eye-opener. Such exposures also makes one accepting of ideas foreign to them, breakout of mindsets and learn about how certain policies of the West can become solutions to problems back home.
- Taking time off: Living in a developing country requires students, faculty and most professionals to put in extra efforts to achieve a target. Under-developed infrastructure impedes the pace of progress and hence extends the hours one has to put in at a task. Living in the West brings in a refreshing change of working fixed hours and getting time off for oneself on a daily basis. It drastically improves the quality of life, which in turn improves efficiency at work.
- Discovering new facets of oneself: Moving to a new country often leads to lowered self-esteem. But homeostasis kicks in, and our mind starts to explore other facets of a personality to increase the confidence of a person. Many of us take up activities and hobbies that we may have never tried in our comfort zone.
- Paradise for the explorer: It goes without saying that an explorer gets a paid opportunity to do what they love- explore! Many people also end up discovering the wander-lust side of theirs. It’s just not geographical territories that one can explore, but also cultural and societal spaces. For me personally, my numismatic greed was more than fulfilled with my collection enriched from all corners of the world!
In a debate of whether one must pursue a postdoctoral research position abroad, I will always be in favor of the motion. Such experiences enhance a person’s capabilities of dealing with issues and can always be put to good use if back home, making it a global win-win situation.
The first part can be found here.