Living abroad was an enriching experience, which gave me the opportunity to face challenges that hadn’t even crossed my mind initially. It taught me to become flexible, to quickly solve problems, to adjust myself to an ever-changing environment and to expect the unexpected (every day brought something that would change my view on how I’d been living until then). Yet, there are some things I wish I had known beforehand.
5 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Going to Live Abroad
This article is aimed at those who are going to, or wonder if they should, live abroad.
I want to present to you 5 things I wish I had known before going to live abroad. Reading this article will help you keep the balance between expectations and the new challenge you’ll be taking on. So, read on!
1. Some Days Will be Amazing, Others Will Not
It’s easy for everyone—your family, friends and yourself—to simply imagine that life abroad is exciting, sophisticated and full of extreme circumstances and happiness overall. Although I can’t deny that living abroad is somewhat of a mixture of all of these, you should keep in mind that some days won’t be as amazing as others.
Going to live abroad implies making sacrifices, pushing yourself to the max, getting used to always being outside of your comfort zone and missing your friends and family. In my experience, you can only overcome such difficult situations if you keep your expectations low. In other words, don’t hope that everything will be a walk in the park.
2. Cultural Differences Will Always Exist
If your next destination is a city you visited during the holidays, and you loved every bit of it, or if you’ve always been interested in a certain culture, living there will probably be a memorable experience. (In this link, you’ll find a selection of the best destinations for learning languages)
However, nothing can prepare you for living in another culture better than immersing yourself in it for a few weeks or months prior to working and/or studying abroad. Simply living there and talking daily with locals will give you a true perspective about how you will really feel there.
When facing cultural differences you find hard to accept, the key is to always keep an open mind by accepting other lifestyles and considering other customs as equally valid. Be tolerant and respectful.
3. You Will Perfect Your Language Skills
If you’ve been studying the language of the country you’re about to move to and you feel it’s not enough, don’t worry… In my experience, I only truly started to learn English when I arrived in the UK.
When working and living abroad, you simply must develop your skills in the country’s language. You can’t escape it, and if you somehow do, your job or academic performance will be affected. Feeling pressured will help you experiment with true results in a relatively short time. Tools such as the MosaLingua apps to learn languages will help you make the most of your spare time to develop your language skills.
4. You Should Not Forget About Your Loved Ones
Keeping in contact with your friends and family is very easy. Online tools such as Skype, Hangouts and Whatsapp will help you maintain ongoing communication with them. When you decide to go back, you will realize that the time you invested in staying in contact with your loved ones kept your relationships strong, despite the distance.
I also recommend not to forget about ex-colleagues, university professors and other possible contacts that could help you in the process of finding work or doing further studies when you come back.
5. Coming Back Home is Harder Than Going to Live Abroad
It never crossed my mind that living abroad would change something in me forever. I’m referring to the fact that it is only when you leave home that you have to reevaluate over and over again whether staying or going back is what’s best for you.
I always thought I would automatically know when to go back home, at the end of the day this is where I come from. However, a brand new life started when I moved abroad, a life that felt more and more like mine, because I built it with much care, and I didn’t want it to just evaporate the moment I boarded on a plane back home.
Moreover, going back home will mean new challenges, such as finding a new career, changes in relationships, reverse cultural shock, etc. However, don’t forget that if you were able to move abroad, away from all you were used to, you’ll easily be able to face these new challenges with your loved ones at your side. Go for it, it’s worth it!
How did you find the 5 things I wish I had known before going to live abroad? Do you have some of your own? Share them in the comment section below! I’ll love reading them!
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