Moving abroad to some far off country is the dream of a life time we all wish we could do. If you have made the decision to move abroad, then the hardest part has been accomplished. Therefore, let me be the first to say what an amazing experience it is to live somewhere new and that it was the best decision of my life.
But for some, moving abroad is one of the most challenging experiences of their lives and many return home.
So, here are some helpful tips to help you make sure you’re ready to leap into the best decision of your life.
1. Home Will Be Too Far Away
Once you move abroad, going home for the weekend is out of the question. You will likely only get the chance to go home once a year, so be prepared to Skype…a lot! The meaning of home will change as you are now divided between two continents. Home will be where you make it.
2. Moving Abroad Isn’t As Glamorous As Everyone Thinks
Two of my absolute favorite movies, Eat, Pray, Love and Under the Tuscan Sun are part of the reason why I uprooted my entire life to move abroad. I wanted to live in a foreign country, learn a new language, date a sexy accented man and travel around Europe forever. But there’s one catch…
It certainly wasn’t as easy as the movies portrayed. There are way more ups and down then they let on. There are days that are so difficult, you want to crawl back into your shell and wonder why on earth you moved so far away, by yourself. Then there are other days that are just so glorious you thank the heavens for such an amazing opportunity.
And it definitely doesn’t work out for everyone. Some people expect it to work out for them and it turns out they hate everything about it and after some time, pack up and head back home.
3. You Win Some, You Loose Some
Friends I mean. You are after all, uprooting your entire life to live somewhere new, far away. The time distance alone will kill many friendships and others will be tested. At the beginning, your friends will love to hear your stories, look at your pictures and enviously say they wish they were you. But then, as time passes, you both start to get tired of always meeting and hanging out online. And you start to realize, you REALLY gotta get out of your small ass bedroom.
Eventually, you start making new friends from work, groups or travel buddies you met along the way. And then suddenly, your new life starts to take shape and the days start passing where that best friend you promised you would never loose contact with slowly starts to disappear to the point you hardly talk, only like each others posts or even see them for a quick lunch when you finally do return home for the holidays.
4. Learning a New Language Doesn’t Just Happen Overnight
Remember those movies I mentioned earlier…Eat, Pray, Love and Under the Tuscan Sun? They made it look so easy in those two hours to learn Italian, but in reality it probably took more like years. You have to readjust your whole life and learn a new language…from the beginning. Unless you were blessed with studying that language at university. And even then, university German (or whatever other language) is completely different from every day German! But you will succeed!
You will certainly have good days where the language is flowing out of you like a natural and you will definitely have bad days where you can’t remember the grammar or vocabulary.
And you will definitely miss English. A lot.
5. Life Can Get Lonely
You might spend as much time traveling and having great adventures, but living abroad definitely isn’t one big vacation. You will meet people along the way and hang out, but you will still have that normal every day tedious work you have to do.
And there is something different about meeting people and becoming friends with people abroad. You’re still a foreigner. You are different to them and they to you. Making friends will be a slow process as you get to know one another. People are comfortable in their little lives and breaking in to form a deep, long lasting friendship isn’t easy, especially if there is a foreign language barrier.
The first couple of weeks will be especially difficult as you settle into your new home and you haven’t quite made enough friends to go out, and you definitely don’t want to be a bother, constantly asking someone to hang out because they’re your only friend.
But sometimes, you just gotta put yourself out there, put on a brave face and join a club or find a cool bar to hang out at.
6. You’ll Appreciate Where You Came From More
When you move abroad and start exploring your new home, you’ll realize how much of a good thing you had back in your home country. After all they say, you don’t know what a good thing you have until you don’t anymore. And you’ll start to realize all the things in your home town you never got the chance to do or never took the time to see. Soon you’ll have a bucket list of your own home and promise to explore more when you get back.
Not just that, but you will have a whole new perspective of your home country when you learn how the rest of the world views it. You will appreciate what your country stands for and be proud even from a far, especially during those big soccer championship games.
7. Prepare Yourself for Name Calling
Yup. As if we’re back on the playground in 5th grade again. Within a few weeks of living in London as I was studying for my TEFL certificate, I was called a “Stupid American” by not being able to figure out one of the most complicated tube stations by a drunk British man… who was also lost! I was offended but had to remind myself, that drunkard lives in London and couldn’t even find his own way!
You’ll even be called CRAZY by people you meet when they ask you “Why are you here!?” Once you tell them your story, they’ll think you’re the craziest person ever to leave and more here. It’s even worse when you’re from sunny California moving to the cold, wet & rainy Germany.
8. You’ll Become Immune to Goodbyes
The initial goodbye when you first leave home to begin your new life abroad will be harder than hell as you walk away from the only life you knew. But then over time, it will get easier and easier after every time you visit home for the holidays, family and friends come to visit and your other expat friends head back home. It sounds so cold and heartless, but it’s easier than breaking down and crying every single time. It doesn’t mean that you love or miss them any less or that it isn’t sad, but that this just becomes a way of life.
9. You May Even Find Yourself
Above all else, throwing yourself out there into the unknown means learning to stand on your own two feet. Nothing will challenge you more and you will learn how to cope with so many different obstacles and they will make you all the more stronger for it.You will grow more as a person because you have gotten out of your comfort zone and looked fear in the face and kept on going.
After all of that, you may just find the person you were always meant to become.