Moving to another country, living abroad and starting over from the beginning is simultaneously one of the scariest and most amazing adventures ever. Everything suddenly changes.
1. Home is where your heart is, even when you live abroad
As soon as you move abroad, you become a member of a special club: from then on you will have two addresses, speak two languages, there will be two different currencies in your wallet. It’s a little too much to say that you will have two different personalities, but it is true that you will be part of two different worlds – your old and new home – from then on. The boundary between these two worlds will probably gradually blur, but even so, your parents will continue to get your mail, or you will have a box of your belongings in storage somewhere.
2. Farewell will be (a little) easier
Even though none of us is a master of farewell, after a while it will start to come more easily. Maybe it’s because you know that wherever you go, you can always come back home to the people you know and love. Perhaps you’ve also discovered a way to temporarily turn off all your emotional stressors, and you know that after every “goodbye” there will be a new “hello”. It is never easy to start living abroad and know that, eventually, you will leave people behind.
3. Friendships gain in intensity
You changed countries and suddenly there is a huge mass of water or land between you and the people you love. It’s hard. You will find out relatively quickly who wants to stay in touch with you, and maybe even use their holidays to come and visit you. Some people will distance themselves from you, while others will get closer to you. Likewise, your feelings about these friends will also evolve. You could say that it is the sentimental version of going through your wardrobe and thinking about what you want to keep and what you have outgrown.
4. New place, familiar challenges
Sure, living somewhere by the ocean is great. But even there you will have to pay bills, clean a clogged toilet and be treated for annoying colds. The mere fact that you live in another country – which may seem like paradise to you and maybe not – does not mean that you will avoid your problems and everything will be a walk in the garden (or along the beach). The sweet honeymoon phase will end one day, and it doesn’t matter which country you are in. Your friends may also envy your life abroad, but it may no longer occur to them that the grass is not always greener away at home.
5. Persistent guilt
Remember how your mom looked when she found out you wouldn’t have time to come to Sunday lunch, but you promised her you’d come next week? Now imagine her expression as you try to explain to her that you won’t even arrive at Christmas because you didn’t get time off at work (or you just couldn’t say no to that road trip with friends). But you’ll try to come to visit sometime in the summer …
6. Life goes on (and in time you’ll get used to it while living abroad)
It will be a hard lesson — Suddenly a lot of great things will happen without you: friends will have a wedding, someone will have children, there will be a party that everyone will remember later. And you won’t get to be there in person, at most you’ll see a few moments through social networks. It can be very difficult to come to terms with it, but you can look at it from the better side as well – your friends will be just as sorry that they are not witnessing all the amazing things that you are experiencing in another country.
7. You will suddenly see your home in a whole new light
Maybe you moved abroad for better weather, or maybe you were bothered by noisy, crowded streets. Or on the contrary, perhaps you went out into the world because you simply caught the travel bug. Whichever sounds like you, when you start explaining where you were born to people from another country, your photos and stories will usually seem interesting, sometimes downright fascinating. This perspective from the outside may then allow you to remember with fondness the streets of home or the horrible weather that you always complained about before. After a while, you start to light up as soon as you hear about home, and maybe you’ll become a bigger patriot – especially when you’re cheering on the athletes of your country, even if you’ve never really cared about sports before.
8. Do what the locals do while you live abroad
Bit by bit, you will feel more and more like a native in your new country. It starts with learning some of the local language or dialect, but it involves much more than just understanding what is being talked about. After a while, you start to adjust to life there: when the best time to go to the market is because there are the best discounts, which cafes know what you want before you order, and on the bus you will be educated by passionate debates on local elections. And even though you’ll probably never be a 100% native (like someone who grew up in your new home from an early age), you’ll fit in well with the locals and catch yourself unknowingly doing what they do. Being part of a new culture is simply a great feeling.