Characteristics of a Global Citizen

Characteristics of a Global Citizen

By Rachel Richter

Global Living Magazine – Issue 19 | July/August 2015

In my opinion, jumping on that plane and becoming an expat also gets you well on your way to being a global citizen. Yes, you are a citizen of your home country, but you are also living your day-to-day life in your host country, somewhere else in the world.

You have made a choice to be diverse and to immerse yourself into a global community, not just the community you grew up in back home. You are ready to embrace new things and take on the world with a different set of eyes. But, what characteristics do you need to embark upon this life as a global citizen?

I think it takes a tough cookie to leave everything you know behind and head into the unknown. Here are the characteristics that helped me on my way to becoming a fully-fledged global citizen:

  1. Open-minded & confident

Going into life as a global citizen with your head in the past is not going to work. If you’re going to take on the big, wide world, you’re going to have to embrace the change, not think about the past. Being a global citizen means you are taking on new challenges, you’re adapting to a new lifestyle and, in order to fit into your new surroundings, you need to be open-minded. Take in, think about and accept new ideas and values, new thoughts and feelings; be confident that you can and will survive in this new place without the amount of support you had back home. That way you’ll find adjusting to your role as a global citizen much easier. You won’t be bogged down in what used to be, and you’ll be taking in new surroundings, making new memories and discovering new things about yourself every single day.

  1. Adaptable & flexible

You are changing your surroundings and your lifestyle; that means you need to change your schedule. To fit into your new role as a global citizen, you can’t stick to the schedule you used to live by. If someone, last minute, asks you to go for a drink, you skip the gym and head to the bar instead. Different countries and different cultures live by different rules; you need to adjust to those and be flexible. Things won’t be the same as they were back home – you might not be able to go shopping on a Sunday or buy liquor in the grocery store.

READ MORE from this issue of Global Living Magazine

  1. Curious & adventurous

You are in a new country, a new city, a new part of the world. Things aren’t the same anymore. There are new experiences around every corner and you need to grab them with both hands and see where they take you. Explore new places whenever you can, find out about the history of the place you are living in and its surroundings, look into the local cultures and learn about them. If you are not eager to find out more and take adventures whenever possible, learning about your host country may be a struggle. Ask questions so that you can understand more about the lifestyle of the local people in your new home. People are built on their history and everybody’s history is different; learning about it can definitely help you to understand their outlook on life.

  1. Become a local citizen & embrace new cultures

Legally, you are a citizen of your home country, but you need to know what is happening in your host country too! Now I’m not necessarily saying the ins and outs of everything political that’s going on (although a little knowledge will probably do you some good); we’re talking festivals, local burger joints, the place for that perfect view and everything else the locals know about but the tourists don’t! Head off the beaten track, mix with the locals and make friends with them; that way you’ll find out about the ‘real’ side of the place where you’re living, not just the places the tourists head to. Then you can blend in and call yourself a local too! Try new things as much as possible. Depending on where you live that could mean you’re eating locusts, heading to a local temple or going down to the ballpark for a baseball game. Thinking and heading outside of the box is the way forward!

  1. See challenges as opportunities, not threats

Let’s face it, moving your life from one country to another is not going to be an easy ride; we all know that, right? There will be tough times, there will be challenges, but instead of feeling depressed by them you need to see them as an opportunity. Don’t feel like the world is against you and things are just too tough in this new place and culture you call home; work out a way to turn it around to your advantage. You might not be able to speak the language very well, so take some lessons and make it your goal to be able to have conversations with the locals. You might not be too confident when it comes to networking to make new friends; instead of running away scared, take baby steps, take someone with you and make a point of splitting up to talk to new people. Embrace things instead of running away from them. It’s the only way you’ll adjust to being that global citizen you aim to be.

Being a global citizen is one of the most amazing things you will ever be. You are open to everything and you learn so much from other cultures. Your mind is receptive to a million new things and it’s always seeking out something different.

Thinking outside the box and not limiting yourself to the things you know, love and grew up with will, in my opinion, make you a better person. You’ll understand the world more, you’ll understand the people who surround you more, and you’ll be able to educate others. And if you possess these characteristics, you’ll definitely be more likely to make it as a global citizen!

[Image © manley099, under license from iStock] 

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