6 Things I Learned When I Moved Abroad
Updated: Aug 20
Have you ever played with the idea of moving abroad? I have been dreaming about it since I was 10. Growing up, I used to nag my mum about sending me to an international school so that I could at least meet people from around the world. She used to say that I should try my luck in my next life instead.
I did not want to wait that long, which is why I enrolled in a bi-national study program that opened doors for me to live and study in France and later to work in Malaysia and Singapore. Moving abroad to live in the big city was exhilarating but also terrifying at times.
When I decided to move away from our idyllic farm across the globe to the big city, my sheltered life changed dramatically - and I am not just talking addresses. I would like to share with you some things that I learned over the past few years.
Relationships Intensify - or Not
I used to have many friends back in Germany. 10 years after leaving the nest that number shrank quite significantly and that is ok. It is normal to lose touch with some people. I am now left with a selected few with whom it does not matter how long we don’t chat on WhatsApp or meet up over coffee. It can be 6 months or a year, we just continue where we left off the last time we met.
I am also making many new friends where ever I go. Together we then arrange relaxing beach trips to some of Southeast Asia's most pristine beaches or invite each other to romantic destination weddings in Mexico or South Africa.
Home Can Be Anywhere
While it was pretty easy to move physically across the globe, it took me longer emotionally, to move my home from Germany to wherever I went. That has changed now. I learned that home can be anywhere. All you need is some great friends - including my furry friends Sashimi and Sushi - and a supporting partner.
Tip: Don’t make that mistake and stay in an ‘expat bubble’. While it is exciting to meet so many people from around the world, it can quickly evolve into a world apart from the local reality.
Now you don’t have to go as far as I did and marry one but meeting locals will enrich your experience of living abroad so much more. You will develop mutual respect for each other, break stereotypes, and promote cultural understanding - something that we all are responsible for.
Despite all of this, I can tell you that whenever I get a care package from my mum, it catapults me right back to the place I grew up. There is simply nothing better than receiving a box full of my favorite Milka chocolate that I have been looking for in all supermarkets around the city, Haribo gummy candy, and some old pictures from myself as a 16-year old girl with my beloved dog.
Discover a New Side of Yourself
Moving abroad is not an easy step. Once you have done it, however, you will quickly be confronted with new and often unexpected challenges and that s a good thing. It will make you grow, become more flexible, and open your mind to the reality that the world is a lot more complex than you thought.
Guilt will Always Be There
Living miles and miles away from your family and friends makes it impossible to be home for every important occasion. You will miss Christmas celebrations and the occasional bbq that you used to love because your dad’s stakes are just so god damn good.
What I learned, however, is that you need to focus on quality time over quantity. Nowadays, every moment that I get to spend at home feels even more special than it did before.
Life Goes on - With or Without You
Legendary birthdays will be thrown, weddings will be celebrated, babies will be born and you will miss a lot of those special moments in your loved-one's lives. That’s a hard reality to accept. Often all you will catch from these events is a glimpse on social media.
On the bright side, you will be collecting some awesome memories of your own wherever you go.
Good-Byes Never Get Easier
I have been traveling across the globe for over ten years now but saying goodbye for some reason has never gotten much easier. The worst is when my parents drop me off at the airport and we all know another 12 months or so will pass by until we can hug each other again. My parents and I tend to be a little bit on the emotional side - so saying good by never goes without tears.