Moving abroad is a dream to many people. Getting to know new cultures and places is always a good experience. Not to mention the maturity that living a different country can bring you, both professionally and personally. Whenever someone is moving abroad, people say the same things to them: “are you afraid?,” “It will be so great, you will have so much fun!,” “You will meet so many new people!”
And all that is true.
It takes a lot of planning to effectively move abroad, and we are so focused on the practical side of things: how to support ourselves financially, how to get a job, how to nail that application form, how to get a visa. While on top of all that there is something very important that we may forget to factor in: the emotional layer.
That’s the part people often forget to mention, the nuances and the feelings that we come across when we are living in a different country for a while. It’s the things that we only start to feel after we have settled all the practical things and started getting used to your new daily life, like:
1. The aftertaste of farewells
On the day of your flight, it’ll be hard to say goodbye to your family and friends, but you’ll get through it. You’ll get on the plane, you’ll land, you’ll unpack, you’ll walk around town. However, only later you’ll notice that the farewell leaves an aftertaste you only feel once you’re getting started with your new life.
Once you see everyone continued to live their lives, as they must, while the only difference is that you are no longer an active part of it.
You know you will miss the big events: birthdays, celebrations and some holidays, but you’ll also miss the parties, the usual Friday night wine and the casual low-profile dinners.
Technology is a big help here and don’t hesitate in keeping in touch with your friends and family. However, try to let go. You will miss the little events that shaped your social life in your homeland, but it will do you no good to try and keep up with them. Now is the time for you to start from scratch and create new ones, as hard as it may seem at first.
2. It’s daunting
More than you’ll expect, and definitely more than people will tell you. Of course, you won’t move to another country assuming it will be easy, however, what you’ll only realize once you effectively move is how dauting it really is. It’s not about the big obvious things, like meeting new people or finding a job, it’s the little things that really get to you. The banal tasks you used to perform on second nature back home will be challenging in your new home.
For instance, going to the supermarket and failing to find a few basic products, not just because shopping in new stores is always hard, as you never know where anything is, but also because you don’t really understand the organizational logic. Because it’s a different country, their culture is different, therefore, they think different. It’ll take some time until you get used to this new line of thought and realize that maybe you won’t find certain products in certain types of shops, like you used to do.
3. The language is always a barrier
Even if you are a fluent speaker of their native tongue. What we often forget to consider are the different accents, voice tones, slang and noise. If you’re in a loud place, it’s a lot harder to guess or naturally assume what the other person is saying on top of the external noise when you are not speaking in your first language.
If you’re working or studying, you might even feel it a little harder, as you’ll be inserted in an environment that uses formal or academic language. But, don’t panic. You’ll get used to it and it does become a lot easier, and at a certain point, you’ll start to forget some of your own language’s words.
4. It’s lonely
Very lonely. Not in the usual way of spending a lot of time by yourself, you might even be prepared for that. But in the sense that you don’t have your local bar to hangout or your usual group of friends to go out with on weekends. You might often find yourself wanting to go out but with absolutely no idea where to go and what to do.
Even with Facebook’s events and Google’s tips of best places in town, walking in a bar alone, sitting on a stool and ordering a beer knowing that no one is coming to meet you can be intimidating. Eventually, you will make friends and find a favorite place, however, until then, you have to take a deep breath and go for a night out alone.
5. It will be much, much better than you expect
In spite of the difficulties in adjusting to a new culture and language, the experience will be unique. Everyone will tell you that, but you will only be able to fully grasp how good it really is once you live through it yourself.
So, buckle up, it’ll be a long and unforgettable ride.