Where are you originally from?
I was born in Poland and raised bilingual.
What do you currently do and where do you work?
Having recently graduated with an MBA from INSEAD, I'm currently in Paris, France pursuing entrepreneurial projects in the digital media industry.
Any additional studies while you were in school that impacted who you are and how you crafted your life abroad?
Languages. Being raised with Polish and English, I learned Spanish and French in high-school, topped off with basic Russian from NYU. This really helped to widen the field of countries and cultures I could potentially work in.
Does the job you thought you were going to have upon graduating vs. the job you have now align to your vision?
Working on aligning these can be a decade-long process, but I'd like to think that I am close to the point of alignment after almost 7 years of meticulous experimentation and serious commitment to the cause.
How did you start planning for your life abroad?
Technically, attending NYU was already studying abroad. I am now in yet another country (France). The planning process for the US took some time while I interviewed people I trusted who had studied abroad there. The same went for France. In the end, it takes a lot of agility and openness from the person planning to live abroad. Perhaps I would recommend focusing on these traits most.
What were the steps in getting you closer to your goal of living and working abroad?
Exposure to cultures and the global experiences of others is key; Support from loved ones who helped generate momentum for my plans; and Savings — ability to adapt to a more expensive environment than home.
Once you arrived in a chosen country, what were the immediate culture shocks that you felt with work and working culture?
None, really. Thanks to traveling beforehand, I was prepared for what to expect. It took some time to adapt to certain cultural differences, and later on (upon returning home), it took a lot of time to re-adapt. Then going to another country, one needs to re-re-adapt. Life abroad can result in a much more volatile personal development process — but the upside can be invaluable.
What is the best piece of advice for someone who may want to venture abroad one day?
Depends for whom the advice is for. I'd say: make friends and develop potential work/study-related leads wherever you're planning to go (in advance) to have a "soft-landing" with relationships upon arrival.
How is your routine different abroad than in the States? Any fun moments that are now part of your day-to-day?
My routine hasn't changed much — the world is absurdly globalized. To some, many culturally-similar places abroad might strike them as equally "generic" as their home. So fear not, and be Bold!