Moving abroad is without a doubt the most amazing, yet most terrifying thing I’ve ever done! Amazing because it has made me more independent , confident and opened my eyes and my mind to new things. Terrifying because I was squeezing my life into a tiny suitcase and hoping it would work out. For me my life turned in to a journey filled with uncertainty and I loved it!
I teamed up with 9 other Female Travel Bloggers to discover what they learned from packing up and moving abroad. One thing for sure about moving abroad, it will change you forever. Here are 10 things we learned from moving abroad…
1. AND SUDDENLY … YOU. ARE. FREE!
From the moment you decide to move abroad, your life turns in to a whirlwind of emotions – fear, adrenaline, excitement as all of your sense sharpen. Starting a fresh should terrify you, but it is strangely addictive, as routine begins to fade out of your life. I have always been free, but have I ever felt free? No. But now I feel like I am capable of anything after giving up every comfort and made things work thousands of miles away from home ! You begin to realise that people and things in your life, they’re just passing through and you begin to play down the importance of situations. Finding a balance between bonding, but also being able to let go. And yes, you will get homesick and yes that is ok. That is why when you can, fly back home, it hits you how little everything has changed. Your life has been going at a million miles an hour! But, at home, life is still the same as ever. Your family and friends will always be there when you go back. Remember, Life won’t stop for you ! Written by me- FrankieGoestoMilano
2. FREEDOM OUTWEIGHS COMFORT
“When I finished school and passed all my exams, I immediately moved to California and worked there as an Au-Pair in a host family. They were living in Sacramento, which is the Capital of California. Before that, I lived my whole life in a small village, where quite nothing was going on. When I lived there, I felt home – for the first time of my life. I loved to be in a city, take advantage of going to free concerts at night and just hanging around at Starbucks for hours. Since San Francisco was only about an hour away, I spent a lot of weekends there. Exploring the city, meeting new people, making memories. It was the best time of my life.
My host family were so welcoming from the very first moment that I didn’t miss my small home town at all. I’ve never met so amazing people, never traveled to awesome place I’ve been to (like Hawaii) and never made so many experiences, as I did while I was there. You can connect with people so easily! You are happy to live the way you always wanted – in total freedom. Nothing feels better!” Michelle from mctraveller – Click here to visit her blog
3. LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED
The biggest thing I learned about moving abroad is how strong my bond with my boyfriend is. When we moved from Spain to Australia we didn’t know anyone. Finding a home, buying furniture and physically moving things like a couch and fridge into our new apartment had to be done just the two of us. It was stressful, overwhelming and chaotic! It was also the most exhausting few weeks of my life. Through it all I learned how much I could rely on my boyfriend – and now that we’ve moved to a new country (twice!) I know that I can count on him to get me through the hardest of times. Kelly from KellyEllaMaz – Click here to visit her blog
4. IT’S OK TO FEEL LIKE A SMALL FISH IN A BIG POND
Travel has the capacity to drag you out of your immediate world. It’s one of the things I love most about exploring new places. But I’ve never felt as anonymous and humbled as when I made the move to East Africa. Maybe it has something to do with Ethiopia being one of the most populous countries on the continent, or maybe it’s being slapped in the face every day by a completely new way of living.
I feel like, sometimes, when we travel we are still filled with a sense of self-importance and a skewed perspective. Travel is time we take for ourselves, so we are still at the centre of our own worldview and we seek to fulfill our own desires. This approach is impossible when you live somewhere, unless you enjoy making life difficult for yourself. You seek to fit into your surroundings, create routine and find common connections and friendships with your neighbours, and by doing this you’re dragged away from your existing worldview. This complete lack of anything familiar can be super daunting!
I can’t imagine moving to a country more confronting than Ethiopia. It’s the only country in Africa that’s never been colonized, so it’s been afforded the opportunity to develop along its own unique path. The people have their own official language (Amharic, with 82 other languages unique to the country) and speak limited English; their own time system (for them, 00:00 starts at what we know as 6am); their own calendar (apparently, the news of Jesus’ birth took 7 years and 9 months to reach Ethiopia, so it’s officially 2008); their own national dish (injera – of which the government limits export); their own music (iskista); and the list goes on…I’ve lived with the Hamar tribe in Ethiopia’s Rift Valley, explored the Muslim East and trekked the high peaks of the North, where one of the most ancient forms of Christianity still remains. After two years in this fascinating country, I’m living a new kind of normal. It is a ‘normal’ enriched by learning about differing traditions, values and beliefs and factoring them into my life, every day. I recommend travel to everyone, but maybe more impactful and life altering is the chance to live away from the place you call home. You’ll never see travelling the same way again. Hannah from DrifterHannah – Click here to visit her blog !
5. CHANGE IS A GOOD THING
Moving can be stressful, not even mentioning moving abroad, to a country you don’t know, to live with people who have strange way of living and talk in a really weird language. But it is so worth it! Personally, I think that not moving abroad would be so much easier than what I did, but moving abroad not only expands your horizons, let’s you learn another language, gets you together with new people. It creates new you. I never thought I would be capable of doing certain things that I did since I moved to Vienna. I never thought that I was capable of changing so much, and I simply love it! Nikoleta from the BonfireDream – Click here to visit her blog!
6. COMPLACENCY KILLS
Canadians are so nice, aren’t they? They are renowned for their good manners and soft accents, on the West Coast anyway! This was one of the pull factors of moving to Vancouver for four months last year. Craig had lived there in his 20s and wanted to show the city off to me. Within the first minute I was in love with the place too. After four months of travelling around South America and Cuba we could finally unpack our bags, let our guards down, and ‘live’. Unfortunately, Craig got a little bit too comfortable and after a heavy night out near Hastings, Craig woke up on concrete with wet clothes, a broken nose, and a missing phone. Positively, the mugger had left Craig his driving licence and house keys, see even Canadian muggers are nice! Lesson to learn ‐ don’t get too complacent in whatever city you are living in! PS. We still love Canada and Craig blames himself and / or the booze! Two Scots Abroad – Click here to visit their blog!
7. IT’S OK TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS, JUST DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR OLD ONES !
I learned how important friends are, new ones and old ones. I learned how much I needed my close friends from back home in my life and that I really needed to work hard to make sure those relationships lasted. I couldn’t just come back every couple of years and expect things to be just as they were before I left. What I really didn’t expect to learn was how important it would be to have a social circle in my new home, too. When I first arrived in Australia, I only knew a few people. I felt so sad on the weekends if I didn’t have plans or people to meet up with. I realized how important it was to me to make close friends in my new city and how valuable it was to my mental health! Laura from CollectingLabels – Click here to visit her blog!
8. SEARCH FOR SIMILARITIES, EMBRACE THE DIFFERENCES
The most important thing I learned from living abroad is the ability to detect and respond to the similarities and differences for each destination. Understanding how we are different allows me to adapt my behavior in order to blend in and easy acceptance. For example, I am a West Coast (USA) girl, but my business style is more like a New Yorker naturally. New Yorkers often “compliment” me on how like a New Yorker I am. While on the West Coast and mid-west America, I tone down my boisterous personality to make them more comfortable around me then slowly let them get to know me.
This was especially import when I moved to England the first time. I focused on how alike we really are, by being aware of those similarities. The differences were harder to hide since I was just learning the local customs and had a very distinct and different accent. After a while, I learned my way around, paying attention to local phrases and behaviors. Now I can easily visit anywhere in Europe and be mistaken for a local (this has happened throughout the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Greece). The way I ate, how I walked, where I stood – all were a dead giveaway that I was American. By observing locals around me, I fit in and was welcomed as someone with much in common. Jen from Jentheredonethat – Click here to visit her blog!
9. GO OUT ON MATE DATES – SWF seeks BFF
As an expat, the period leading up to the move is nothing but excitement. A new job, a new city, new things to explore. Everything seems shiny and golden. And then you land, you unpack your suitcase and boxes, put up your pictures of home. You step outside, and start to explore your new home, still feeling like a tourist. And then, as you walk about the city alone, you look around and realise, you don’t know anyone. The panic sets in. What have I done? How am I going to make friends? What the hell is a flat white and why can’t just get a normal coffee? Why are they constantly cheers-ing? I thought people spoke English in England. While the coffee issue sorted it self out fairly quickly, making friends was a totally different ball game. At 26, everyone already seems settled in their groups – school friends, work friends, people they grew up with. Where were all of my people?! As it turns out, everyone flocks to London in groups. The Kiwis and Aussies all know each other, you hear all sorts of other languages, because everyone comes to London. And everyone knows each other. Except you. Or at least, that’s how it feels.
You decide to be bold and give up the idea that it’s bad if all of your friends are expats. You say yes to EVERYTHING. You finally meet the friends of friends you’ve been messaging on Facebook or Instagram, and you court the nice girl in the office and you friend date. Which, in my experience, far tougher than real dating, because you don’t know these rules yet. And then, before you know it, you’ve got friends again. Just in time for the rain to clear up and head out to the park for a picnic. You just have to be bold. Say yes. Cass from CassTravels – Click here to visit her blog!
10. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE OKAY!
I was 22 turning 23. I had built up enough courage to make the move. I was moving from Sydney to London. No big deal, it’s is a right of passage nowadays and many Australians do it. People around me started to think it was a big deal. My family were all very worried for me. I was getting questions left, right and centre about my plan… Little did they know, I didn’t have a plan!
I attended a talk on an Overseas Working Holiday Program. Their marketing and sales was fantastic, exaggerating everything and anything that could go wrong. Installing a sense of fear into my head. So I joined the program which promised to find me a guaranteed job and house, organise my bank accounts and visas, taking care of everything. I paid over $1,000 AUD for a piece of mind that I didn’t need.
They played on the youth who were scared and what they delivered was nothing short of what I could of done myself. In fact, I did end up doing it myself. The guarantee job they offered consisted of a trial shift at a large London Hostel. If you went to this trial shift and received at least one shift of work (which everyone did) then you officially had received that “guaranteed job”.They started you off with 3 free days in their hostel whilst they looked for your accommodation. I was there for a week and was shown one house. Meanwhile they were making more money from me staying at their hostel. I pushed for more house viewings and they showed me houses that were the complete opposite of what I asked for. I had imagined they would of had a portfolio of houses for me to look at on my first days, however, it was a waiting game that I couldn’t control.It wasn’t just me. Throughout the hostel, filled with people who had trusted this company, were horror stories worst then mine.Looking back this was all a learning lesson but at the time I felt cheated, I felt naive and silly. It messed with my confidence and decision to be living overseas, my confidence that I could do it all myself. After a week of dealing with underpaid and lack of shifts, some of the dodgiest house inspections you could imagine and unprofessional “”help” I decided to sort myself out.
Within a week I had sorted myself a better paying job. I had found a perfect house within 2 days of looking and organised myself sim cards that worked and information that was correct as well as a bank account that was not as hard to get as they made out. For this I felt, at first embarrassed at relying on an external company. Secondly, proud. Proud of myself for pulling myself out of a runt and holding my head high. I then realised that everything will work out. That I am independant and an adult and that I can make it through the things I think if I can’t. I learnt I can do anything! Rebecca from acreativenomad – Click here to visit her blog!
Have you ever lived abroad? Is there anything you would add to the list? Leave a comment and tell us about your experience or share if moving abroad is something you are thinking about doing !