One of the most fascinating things about living abroad is that even our basic assumptions are constantly being put to the test. I grew up believing (as strongly as 1+2=3) that there were 6 continents in the world: America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and Antarctica. However, during a college class I was taking in the U.S., the professor divided the class into 7 groups that would represent the continents of the world.
“But, wait a minute,” I thought to myself, “what’s the 7th continent?”
It turns out that if you grew up in an English-speaking country, you were taught that there are 7 continents: North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia (not Oceania) and Antarctica. If you grew up in other parts of the world, you may have learned that there are 6, 5 or as little as 4 continents.
To learn why people disagree over the total number of continents, watch the video below.
But, the point I’m trying to make with this silly example is that when we’re living abroad, we should expect to have our ideas and beliefs challenged all the time. Learn to appreciate new ways of thinking. And, most importantly, get comfortable with ambiguity. There might simply be no right or wrong answers to many questions―even to the simplest ones.
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To read this post in Portuguese, click here.