As my time living abroad is shortly coming to an end, I have been reflecting on my time here. I say it over and over…moving to France was one of the most challenging things I have done but also the most rewarding. If you are ever considering if you should just take the risk and move abroad, do it. You will not regret it. Even if you come back sooner than expected, you still took a leap of faith and did something most people are scared to do. Living abroad not only opens your eyes to many new things, it also challenge you to grow as a person.
When I first moved here, I was lucky enough to have a friend that could should me the ropes. She gave me invaluable advice that I in turn give to everyone I know moving abroad, with of course a few of me own additions. I know it is one thing to read it and another thing to experience it, but hey, down the line don’t say I didn’t warn you.
You will lose contact with some people back home.
Unfortunately, this isn’t just a part of moving away but a part of growing up. Lives get busy and schedule conflict. People start to lose contact with each other. Of course you will be upset at first when you are homesick and crying over the newly uploaded Facebook pics from the party all your friends were at. It will feel like they are living your life without you in it. This is normal to feel, but eventually it will pass. As sad as you are to not be in those pictures, your friends are looking at all your pictures of travels and your new life with sadness and longing as well. But just remember, it is ok to lose contact. The people who make the effort to stay in your life are the people who matter.
Culture shock is a real thing.
There are five phases of culture shock and they will happen to you: Honeymoon, Negotiation, Adjustment, Mastery, and Independence. To learn more about it, check out the Wikipedia page here. There are millions of articles if you Google it, and I suggest you do. Once you can understand why you are feeling the way you are, the quicker you can accept it and move on.
Be a ‘Yes’ person and ready for everything.
This is a special time in your life you will never forget. Take advantage of every single second. Say yes to everything you can. Be a different person. Do the things you think you couldn’t. You have the opportunity to become the person you want to be and to conquer everything you have been afraid of. I mean you made it this far, right? Things are going to be strange and different but embrace them rather than fight them. The sooner you can accept the new things, the sooner you will be on your way to making this your life.
Get used to saying goodbye.
This is my least favorite thing of being an expat. The sad truth is people usually don’t live abroad forever. Normally it is a year or two tops, which means goodbyes will be frequent. Your friends abroad become your family so it makes it difficult but be positive about the situation. If you want to keep in touch, you will. My best friend lives in Austria and we still talk daily. Although it’s hard not having her in my same city anymore, I know it doesn’t make her any less of a best friend.
This will be the best and worst time of your life.
I hate to say it but life abroad is not all roses and butterflies. Yes, it seriously is the greatest thing ever. But there will be times you ask yourself what the hell were you thinking. Things are tough, I can’t sugar coat it. But with the bad comes the good. Like I said, fasten your seatbelts boys and girls.
Have you ever moved abroad? What are some of your pieces of advice?