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How Living Abroad Made Me A Better Professional

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Several years into my bookkeeping career, my professional and personal life took an adventurous turn. I was working in Los Angeles with a remarkable mentor. I was learning invaluable knowledge from her 30 plus years in the business, and we worked with all types of industries and personalities. It was an exciting time as I was learning something new every day (such as…my husband could walk the mile to work faster than drive it #latraffic).

When my husband’s career took us abroad, first to Dubai UAE and later Tripoli, Libya, I got an entirely different perspective on life and how this can affect your professional career. One’s perspective can help or hinder your professional growth.

“Perception is what you interpret – it is your understanding of a given situation, person, or object. Perspective is your point of view – it’s the lens you see the world through and determines how you view yourself, others, and everything else around you. “

Your own perception of a person, place, or thing can limit new knowledge and individual growth. You should approach a new relationship or situation with an open mind. Do your research if required, but pay attention, listen to what this person, place or thing can offer and teach you. Every new person or place brought into your world has something new to offer. Maybe it’s a lesson on what not to do (eat at a third world salad bar? I’m there!), which is often a difficult thing to learn.

Living in Libya with folks from all over the world was eye-opening and the experiences were life changing. I learned not having a preconceived notion of this new life, and having an open mind, allowed me to absorb more culture and friendships (and parasites!). Our Tuesday Canasta group was one of my most cherished memories. I got to meet the most amazing women, and hear about their life experiences; where they studied, lived and worked. This opened my eyes to so many different ways of thinking and prioritizing family, friends, and faith over money and things.

Professional growth is something not just taught. I believe the 5 years I had overseas helped me learn to play to my strengths, take corrective criticism as a chance to evolve, and stand up for what I believe in. I will forever appreciate the local women, expatriate wives and their families that were generous enough to share their thoughts, experiences and ideals. It made me a better person (and much more paranoid of salad bars!).

Stacy S Schott

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