Things you need to know about moving abroad
I’ve relocated across four major continents in seven individual moves. I’ve set off on my own, I’ve returned to old friends, I’ve come back home and jetted out the door again as quick as possible and now I’ve recently relocated as a “trailing spouse” – legitimately the worst term to ever call a partner, but regardless.
It's a life that has been packed into countless boxes, where I've paid for excess baggage more than I can bare to think about, said goodbye more times than I’d ever have liked and lived the absolute highs, and complete utter lows that comes with the fragmented life of living abroad.
Home to me, is no longer is a singular place. My closest relationships are now scattered across the globe, and every time I hug someone dear to me goodbye, I wonder, when exactly it may be that I will see them again.
I’ve fallen madly in love with city streets, and then pined for my hometown ocean. It’s been awe-inspiring, depressing, maddening, opportunistic and most of all, revealing.
Knowing this, it seemed apt to put together the home truths you need to know before moving abroad.
You will learn to know yourself – Your true self.
The times were you feel isolated beyond belief, are scraping by until the next payday with no cash or are flying by the seat of your pants, not sure where you might sleep next week – that’s when you will realise stepping out of the comfort of home security is like shining a spotlight on your inner self and you learn how you deal in a crisis.
The path to learning who you are; what you are interested in and what you want to do with your life, won’t be easy, and you might not come up with many answers to be honest. But by going through life-changing experiences, learning to rely solely on yourself, and becoming your own best mate – you will not only and gain a greater sense of who you are but build appreciation of how much of a badass you are.
Some people are never brave enough to leave home. Own that shit.
You’ll have a broader appreciation of the world, and its people, than before.
When you’re immersed in cultures, educations, homes and environments that are radically different from your own, you can’t help but absorb nuances of culture and belief that widens your mind, and heart, to have more understanding, appreciation and compassion for the world at large.
Interactions, whether fleeting or engaging, with complete strangers or new friends, can shift your perspective of different aspects of the world surrounding you, taking you out of the cultural, and unconsciously biased, bubble that you grow up embedded within.
These connections, are what builds acceptance and raises cultural awareness. Believe in it and utterly explore it. Ask questions, seek answers, meet people and get to know a world that varies from your existing one.
Some people at home, just don’t get it and that’s okay.
If you’ve left home, chances are you’re on a slightly different path to the majority of your friends, who may be on the more traditional pathway of career climbing, buying a house, settling down, marriage, kids etc etc etc.
They will have some questions about what you’re up to, they may be even question when YOU will decide to settle down and “grow up” and above all, some of them just won’t get why you ever decided to leave home in the first place. You can try to explain (you should), but the least successful option here is trying to compare or argue about your pathways.
Sometimes people just won’t get it, and accepting that is the best path to success here!
Loneliness is inevitable
Even if you’re moving abroad with someone else, being lonely and learning to cope with loneliness is par of the course of relocating.
For the introverts, the vast amount of time alone, can feel like a reprieve from social life for sure, but the need to balance that out is vital, as too much time alone for anyone can become unhealthy.
For those extroverts, who thrive off social occasions and interactions, learning to be without your safety net of friends and family can be harder to manage, and finding the methods to cope with loneliness is a key skill in your strategy to survival.
The best way to combat loneliness is to meet new people and build a network – be that through work, joining a fitness studio or gym class, attending events or just chatting to the local barista. The scary part, is knowing you have to put yourself out there, but people are often nicer than we believe, so go on "Say Hi!".
You will miss home
When you left, home feel like a second skin, a safety net, a cocoon if you like, in all its familiarity and comfort. Often when you're abroad, you will romanticise “home” and live in the past tense of nostalgia and memories… “remember those good times”– blocking out how bored you were, the lack of culture, experiences or opportunities – basically all those reasons why you left in the first place.
You will miss the feeling, the people, the security of home life. But it's important, to remember in those moments, exactly why you decided to set out for this adventure in the first place. Trust that instinct.
But also remember, it's okay to miss your home and it's also okay to return, living abroad long term isn't for everyone - and that doesn't dilute the experience in the first place.
Home won’t feel like home when you return
When you return, its like trying to squish your circular expansive self, back into a confined square hole. It kind of doesn’t fit and kind of doesn’t really work.
When you come back, to live or visit, theres a jarring sense of a) nothings changed and b) you’ve changed so much you don’t quite know how to make it back into the past.
The best way to deal with this, is to experience your home as you would any new city, explore it, reconnect with friends, new and old, and build new memories of a place that holds a special sense of affection, but a place you have come to realise is only one small aspect of the world which expands far beyond now.
Your troubles will still be with you
The old saying that you can’t out run your problems is damned well true. No matter how far you move across the world, there is still one common denominator in relocating – you.
A fresh start and a change of scene can do a world of wonders to hit refresh, but at the end of the day, some things need to be resolved from within, not from the exterior. It’s true some breathing room, a change of pace and new people, environments and opportunities can definitely help in places where you feel stuck, but it always comes back to you putting in the work on yourself and acknowledging that no matter where you go, you will always be there.
Good friends remain good friends at the end of a FaceTime call
No matter the distance between you, good friends stick. As in every relationship, true friendship takes active work, from both parties, and to make friendships work and last, when living apart you have to be both understanding of the demands on each others time, and willing to put in the effort required to stay in touch.
With the whole world at our fingertips these days, it's much easier to keep in touch, but it does require input from both ends. When you do that, you experience the magic where no matter how long you’ve been apart, once reunited its like you never left each others side.
New friends feel like family
When you find people who become friends in a new country, they become your substitiute family, especially with those who are expats themselves. The bonds formed over being “orphans” abroad, become stronger over that common understanding of what each other is going through. Shared tears, laughs and hangovers, will make sense more to each other in that moment than when relayed to other friends back home.
These people are hard to leave when you move on individually. The best part though, is you have places to crash across the entire globe now.
You will change, irretrievably
All of the experiences, the growth, the development, the memories, will change you immensely and irretrievably. It is impossible that by relocating, some aspect of you won't change. Be it a maturity you didn’t have before, a sense of self acknowledgement, a confidence to meet new people, or even just knowing that you are brave beyond belief because you actually did it in the first place.
This isn’t to say you will move abroad and everything will be a flying success, the shfits may be subtle, but they are there and you will see them if you take the time to look.
It will probably be the best decision you ever make
Enlightenment. Adventure. Growth. Accomplishment. Maturity. Acceptance. Bravery.
Ask just about anyone who has moved abroad and this will be their response. Making that decision to go can be hard at first, tearing yourself away from loved ones at the airport as you board the plane can be heartbreaking, and at times, well it's shit. But undoubtedly, it will be the most rewarding, life changing decision you make.
Go for it.
Have you relocated or moved abroad? We would love to know your experiences! Share them in the comments below or on our social channels.