What to Expect when Moving Abroad

What to expect when moving abroad

Are you considering moving abroad? This can be an overwhelming experience and I am going to spell it all out for you with as much honesty as possible!

The Feeling of Adventure

Admittedly, you will have to face the struggles of life as everyone does – working, cleaning, paying bills, etc. But, every so often you can pause and remind yourself that you are smack dab in the middle of an adventure. You are living in a new country! It’s an amazing feeling and, with the right attitude, you can really appreciate all of the new experiences on a daily basis.

… and TRAVEL

Also, Europe is super tiny compared to the US. The opportunity for travel is unreal! I definitely have taken advantage of cheap flight prices and the proximity of major cities like Edinburgh, London and Paris.

Never stop travelling! Keep rewarding your thirst for adventure!

The Art of Comparison

You will constantly be comparing your life in the US to your life in your new country.

Comparing food, words, people’s behaviours, TV shows, … literally EVERYTHING!

Even in the UK, where the language is the same and pop culture is largely the same, there are so many differences.

I thought communication was the least of my worries when moving to England. However, with thick accents, unlimited slang, and the same words meaning different things and different words meaning the same things… I was so wrong! There is a serious LANGUAGE BARRIER!

For example, ‘college’ in America means the same thing as ‘University’ in England… but ‘college’ in England is referring to a ‘technical college’ in American terms. Or, a pickle in England is called a gherkin!

Even more dangerous: in America, you can refer to someone who is energetic as ‘spunky.’ A word from the wise – do not use this word in any shape or form in England. I learned this the hard way: through horrified looks and a dash of embarrassment.

The list goes on and on.

You will inevitably get confused from time to time as you say something that means something else here, but you’ve got to have a good sense of humour to laugh at what’s lost in translation.

To be honest… it’s really fun at first! Then, it gets a little old and homesickness sets in.

Homesicknesses

You may not even realise how comfortable you are in your current life until you make a massive change like moving abroad.

Homesickness is really tough. It hits you in the strangest ways when you least expect it!

You might be in the grocery store, longing for the snack or the brands that you know and love and there is nothing even remotely similar. Or you might be trying to park your car but you’re confused because the parking system is all different and this used to be such a breeze when you were home! Or, even weirder, you might be at a social gathering, having a lovely time. But when you look up, you realise none of your friends or family from home are with you and that makes you really sad.

My advice to you is this: surround yourself with photos of your loved ones. Put them up on your walls and in frames as soon as you settle in your new home. Then, go outside. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing – but go outside and do something. Explore the new city centre, take a walk, join a class, go out for a meal.

Sitting at home can make you feel so lonely, and you definitely will not make any new friends by sitting on your own sofa!

Making Friends is Hard

As an adult, you can’t really go up to someone and ask them to be your friend. You’ve not got the built-in social opportunities that existed in high school and university.

It’s almost easier to date than it is to make genuine friendships. For example, how awkward would it be to go up to a ‘potential friend’ in a bar and ask for their number?

You’ve just got to be patient and keep putting yourself in social situations! Like I said before, get yourself out of the house.

It might take time. And you might fail many times.

For example, I signed up for a dance class called something like ‘Dance Fitness’ in an attempt to meet new friends. However, when I turned up for the session, it was only me, an elderly woman and the instructor! The description of the class was really unclear, but within the first few minutes I realised it was definitely for elderly people. It was a hilariously awkward session as I did some old lady dance moves (and had to pretend to enjoy it because, as I made up HALF of the class – I didn’t want to be rude!), but I came home that evening (laughing so hard) and went straight back online to find another, more age appropriate, dance class to join. And, in this process, I found a new hobby that I LOVE:

You do have to take risks and just put yourself out there. Think about it, if someone came up to you and said “hey, I don’t know many people in this city – do you want to get a drink sometime?” would you think they’re weird? Probably not! You’d probably understand. And if you try that and you’re turned down, well – on to the next one, I suppose!

Another option is to get a friendship app on your phone and start your search that way. For example, bumble has a ‘bff’ option. You’ll be surprised how many other people are simply trying to find some new friends!

Also, don’t overlook the people who are already in your life. Work colleagues, for example, are worth getting to know! Or neighbours! Give everyone a chance.

I ended up befriending several of my coworkers and love spending time with them!

Dreaded Visas!!

In the movies, it seems like you can just up and leave and move to any place in the world! Adventure!

That is not true. To be able to live in a different country, you need permission. Getting a visa can be really complicated. And the worst part is, there is no one to ask questions! Many times, you have to navigate the government’s website and choose the ‘best fit’ visa and just apply and hope for the best!

I suppose it makes sense that you can’t meet with someone to explain your specific situation, as everyone’s situation will be different. But it is scary and frustrating as you are never completely sure if you’re filling out the right forms or sending the right documents, etc.

You can also pay for help, I suppose from companies that specialise in visas. I would imagine this would take away some of the stress, but I am a little to stingy with my money to pay for services like this!

Also, you can only get visas for certain reasons. For example, there are visas for students (studying abroad), visas for spouses (if you’re marrying someone from the country you are moving to), or work visas. However, work visas, in most cases, are only granted to those doing specialised jobs for a company that sponsors the visa.

So, my advice to you is: do your research on visa options before you even consider moving abroad. You need to make sure it’s possible for you to live and work before looking into anything else.

The Word ‘Home’ loses its Meaning

Where is home anyways?!

You’ll always have a small piece of you in all the places you’ve called home. This is a blessing and a curse.

You may feel like you don’t have that one place you belong to, but as a trade off, you’ll know that you’ve got much more than just a place. You’ve got experiences, memories, and the people you’ve met along the way.

Personal Growth Beyond Measure

Through the good and the bad – the struggle and adventure – you will definitely grow.

You will become more independent and more confident. Because, yes, it is tough to dive head first into the unfamiliar, but you’ve done it and you’ve survived! You’ve learned a new culture, picked up some new skills, and totally shattered your comfort zone. You’ve combatted the homesickness and maybe even learned how to drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.

You will accomplish so much and, to be honest, other people won’t see those accomplishments. But, you will.

Best of luck on your next adventure. You got this! Xx