Moving abroad can be daunting and at the same time exciting. Even after moving to three countries over the past years there are things I wish I knew before moving abroad. Here are some tips that I have learned along the way and that can hopefully aide you for your upcoming international move.
1. It can be a Headache finding somewhere to live
Finding housing can be a challenge and sometimes even a nightmare. Prior to leaving I would check out Facebook groups for accommodation, get in touch with agencies and reach out to your network that you are on the search for housing. Try to do what you can before coming over. However, keep in mind that some cities like Paris or London can only do so much in advance. Viewings, meeting potential flatmates, showing financial statements or making offers can sometimes only be done in person.
2. You will Feel Lonely at Times
As soon as I dropped my mom off at the airport I felt the pit of loneliness sink in. I cried on the tube ride home and continued to do so all night after I locked myself in my room. Frankly, it will take some time getting used to being in another country other than your own. The truth is that you may eat some meals alone, navigate the city without help but this is okay and part of the process! I find that solo exploring, getting exercise and heading out to meetup events really helps with overcoming loneliness better.
3. Sometimes Skype & Whatsapp won’t Cure Homesickness
I’m so thankful for this day and age where we have platforms that give the us the opportunity to speak with our loved ones when we are far from home. However, video calls really don’t cut it sometimes. It can all feel very overwhelming especially when missing out on special events like the holidays. Remember that this all part of being an expat and feeling homesick is inevitable.
4. You’ll be your Country’s International Representative
No matter where I travel the world once people find out where I’m from, some have the tendency think I know everything there is to know about the US. And this is fair to some extent because no matter what country you visit to others from the host country will be perceived you as the unofficial ambassador. I understand others asking me about the current political issues, our health system, social manners, etc. However, you will also hear judgements and generalizations that may be positive or negative. Please remember to always be respectful and courteous.
5. Study the Language Intensively
Obviously you should try and learn the language beforehand but I say intensively for a reason. It can feel pretty frustrating when you have official documents to sign and cannot read them or need to communicate with someone like your doctor or landlord and they do not speak your language. Being able to understand a bit of the local language or communicate with others can help you feel more integrated and may make the transitioning process much more easier. Try to enroll in a language class, Skype with a language buddy or just consistently self-study before and after you arrive.
6. You may Become a Minimalist
It’s not very likely that you will bring your whole life with you when moving abroad. While it sounds nice it is: 1 too expensive, 2 not very practical and 3 very stressful. Moving your favorite couch could cost up to thousands to send over and if you’re relocating within the next year, what is the point? I learned the hard way to only bring the essentials. Since I relocated so frequently I was not able to pack all my belongings and ended up giving them away, selling them or throwing many in the bin! It’s just not practical to pack everything you own because it will literally and figuratively weigh you down.
7. Moving Abroad is Totally Worth it
During this journey (especially at the beginning) you may question whether this was the right choice to make. Moving abroad has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my life. I’ve experienced different ways of life, met amazing people and developed great contacts, increased my language skills, been pushed out of my comfort zone countless times, have grown personally and professionally and the list goes on.