For anyone who has ever studied abroad, done an internship abroad, taught English, or been on any type of exchange program, there is one thing that we can all agree on — The most memorable part of the experience wasn’t the place that you went to or the activities that you participated in; it’s the people that you met while on the program. It’s the connections that you made with those people, the experiences that you shared, and the conversations that you had.
It’s what I like to refer to as, “The Family Effect”.
Anytime that someone goes on an international adventure with people of a similar age, background, and interests, the relationships and friendships that are forged often last a lifetime. Whether it’s a sleepaway camp, teen tour, study abroad, internship abroad, birthright, Fellowship, you name it, the people that you go with become your family throughout the duration of that experience.
You share the ups and downs. You share the laughter, joy, and eye opening sights. You share the complaints, struggles, and fights. You share the experience, and you create lasting friendships that are there to support you regardless of where you end up in the world.
When I look back on my life and the experiences that I had while on these various programs, I can’t help but reflect on the friendships that were created and the relationships I still hold dear to my heart today.
I can’t help but appreciate how those experiences shaped me as an individual and made an impact on the way I think, act, and prioritize relationships and human oriented experiences. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be fortunate enough to have met so many people from so many different walks of life, all with different ways of expressing themselves and enjoying life.
My first experience I can think of was sleep-away Camp when I was 9 years old (a camp where you spend 4 weeks of the summer away from home, basically playing sports and doing fun things all day). I went there alone, not knowing anyone, but with the adventurous mindset of “I’ll meet people when I get there!” I still remember walking into the bunk that day and being welcomed by a group of guys from a neighboring town.
Those guys would become my best friends for the next 6 years of my life, and are still close friends of mine to this day. Sleep-Away camp is where I became confident of living on my own; it’s where I had my first girlfriend, the first time I was dumped, and my first kiss. It was my first rendezvous with life, and with creating a family away from home.
Then when I became a little bit older and went to college in Arizona (very far away from my hometown in New Jersey), I decided to join a fraternity during the second semester of my Freshman year. The relationships that I forged with my pledge brothers are the closest friendships I have on this planet today. Nearly 4 years since we graduated and we have a FB chat that is sprawling with 100’s of messages a day, despite the fact that all of us are spread across different geographies. Last night I had a Fantasy Football draft with several of them. In a few weeks I’m going to visit two more pledge brothers in London. A few months ago a Fraternity brother visited me here in India. They are my brothers, and they always will be.
Then once I had the opportunity to, I studied Abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the second semester of my Junior year. I was immediately connected to 60 something like minded people from all parts of the country and varying ages, all with one common interest in mind; a desire to travel.
Argentina was hands down the most reckless, fun, downright silly adventure of my life, and it’s because of the friends that I had while on the trip. I still have vivid memories of running around the streets eating Choripan and Superpanchos, dancing in Boliches, hiking and camping in the mountains, and my trip to the Amazon.
Several years later when I went to LA, I met up with my roommate from the abroad program. One of my friends I have seen now in three different countries, but we’ve never met in the USA. One friend is the reason why I came to India, and was largely responsible for the development of my actual career. They are some of my biggest supporters to this day, and are people whom I can always turn to when I’m in need of advice.
When I went to go teach English in South Korea, I once again knew no-one. My first day a tall handsome British man by the name of Matthew Williams sat down next to me on a chair meant for a 7 year old. He had previously taught English in Korea, and had an existing friend circle whom he was able to introduce me to. Those introductions became my best friends throughout my time in Korea. They became my family.
And Matt, the tall handsome British man? He became my co-founder. The rest of our family? They are about to join the BrainGain team because we all understand the common mission and have experienced what happens when you travel with like minded people.
Finally, when I came to India this family effect became even more solidified, but this time in a much different way; all of my best friends were women. This was the first time in my life that all of my best friends weren’t dudes, and I believe that this had a much needed positive effect on my ability to have girlfriends that I am not dating. In other circumstances I forged relationships and found my brothers, whereas in India I found my sisters. And my buddy from Argentina who ended up being in Bangalore too? Damn — that dude is like blood in such a close way that words can’t explain.
Now, two years later, I have another family in Bangalore. A family who supports me, cares about my success, and wants to see me thrive and pursue my passions. A family that will be there to help me when I run into trouble. A family who wants to collaborate, build awesome projects together, and see new members of the family arrive here in Bangalore and share the experience.
When I created BrainGain I noticed that there was a fundamental flaw with a lot of the options to find work abroad. There were a few job boards that promised good opportunities, but there was one crucial aspect missing from all of them — The Family Effect.
You see, there are job boards where you can find a job abroad, but once you get there you are on your own. On your own to figure out how to make friends, how to create a life for yourself, and how to find a group of people who support you. You have no family, and your best bet is to try and plug yourself into an existing family. And when dealing with expat life, this isn’t always the easiest because expats tend to be a revolving door; here for three to six months, and gone the next. The family that you had is contingent upon them being there at the same time as you.
Finding a job abroad is only half of the battle. Finding a support circle, someone to help you get settled into the city, someone to vent to when times are hard — that’s the other half. That’s why at BrainGain we place such an emphasis on helping people get acclimated to the city that they end up in. That’s why we pick you up from the airport, feed you Masala Dosa’s and Chai (if you end up in Bangalore), show you around the city, and introduce you to your future family. We do this because the most memorable part of working abroad isn’t the job that you have or the country that you are placed in, it’s the people whom you share the experience with.
We like to look at this as “Study Abroad for Adults”, but instead of studying, you get the work experience + a family of people to share the experience with. You instantly get connected to a group of like minded people who are sharing the same experience and are equally as nervous and anxious for the unknown as you are. You get a family to go along with the work. And this was validated when we brought our first batch of people here. Our initial family members have taken trips together, on weekends they go out together, when they need someone to talk to, they reach out to each-other; they are beginning to experience the family effect.
The coolest part about this? We’re also creating something special because of what I like to call the “Rollover Effect”. Because we take rolling admissions throughout the year, we consistently have an overlap of the people who will be arriving in the city that they land up in. When someone new arrives here, they have an already existing family waiting for them and welcoming them with open arms, ready to have another adventurer join the family and share the experience. You instantly have a group of people who have been through the experience, know what you are going through, and can anticipate the frustrations you might have and help you through them.
Experiences are amplified by the people whom you experience them with, and the friendships you create while traveling will last you a lifetime.
Anyone who has been through a similar experience will tell you the same. We’re creating a worldwide family of like-minded global professionals who want to explore working outside of their home country and getting outside of their comfort zone. We have a growing family here on the ground in Bangalore, and we’re just getting started 😉
Big thank you to everyone whom I have met throughout all of my travels. The experiences that I have shared with all of you were formative to the philosophy of this company, and none of the decisions I have made would have been possible without your support. I strive to replicate the experiences I have shared with all of you through the work that I am doing at BrainGain, and I look forward to seeing how we can continue to grow this family around the world