I’ve dreamt of moving abroad for years. I always had the idea that I was made for it. I had to do it. And I knew that I would never forgive myself if I wouldn’t at least try to do it.
Life abroad is part of me and is part of my family. My mum was born and raised in New York as the daughter of two San Marino citizens, that moved to the US for about two decades to look for a better opportunity of life. It’s like I can feel it in my blood.
And for some reason I’ve always pictured life outside of my little, way too little, hometown, as the perfect portrait of how I wanted my life to be: an easier, better, happier life, full of friends, laughters, travels, events and happenings, creativity and 100% no boredom.
When I decided to move abroad I made it to finally reach this image of pure awesomeness. Maybe somehow I knew it wasn’t going to be all nice and pretty like a soft cloud of cotton candy, but I was still thinking that everything was going to be perfect.
I wish somebody would have told me though a few things about it.
- If you think there’s going to be lots of paper work, you’re wrong. There’s TONS of paper work, and it’s pretty much a never-ending thing. As a non-european living in Europe, I can ensure you that paper is going to be an important, big part of your abroad experience. And either is Germany a very high-requesting-paper-stuff kind of country, or this is inevitable destiny of every single expat out there. (Cheers to us for the patience…!)
- You can go wherever you want, but if you don’t learn to love yourself first for who you are, you’ll never be happy, no matter where you’ll be. Moving somewhere is not a solution to a problem if you’ll be your own problem. For pretty much all my life I have considered myself as someone who wasn’t good or adequate enough in anything, therefore I never branched out too much. I have been ridiculously severe to myself for any mistake done, any laziness, any unfinished project or failed experience. If you choose to move abroad you are 100% betting on yourself and who you are. Moving abroad will change you deeply. Learn to be kind to yourself first, allow yourself to make mistakes, to do stupid things, to be late, to be lazy, to be wrong. And be totally proud of even the smallest of the goals you can achieve. Because that, my dear, will make you feel over the top like never before.
- Life abroad is not all about parties, friends and laughters. I used to think that, if I would have moved abroad, I would have the chance to attend a different event everyday, I’ll be surrounded by tons of new friends, that I would meet awesome and kind people everyday and I would never experience what “routine” is. Well, this can be partly true: after all it’is up to us to decide what to do everyday. But it took me several times to learn that lots of people can be unkind, that I would experience multiple times what feeling lonely means and that it’s hard to fit into a huge city with 3,5 million inhabitants where nobody, or very few persons, could care about you. Moving abroad for work related purposes gives you less chances of being in very social environments or situations, creates (most of the times) a pretty defined schedule and most days look similar to each other. So a different party everyday and a thousand of new friends are kind of utopic. I’ve already lived in Berlin in the past and I’ve been back here since a while now and I still don’t have many friends or time and wish to party hard everyday. But for sure I can decide to slowly make everyday efforts and do my best to create occasions to balance things up and create a life I can be 100% happy about.
- You will feel lonely. A lot. But if you’re good enough, you can even start liking to do things on your own and enjoy your own company. I always thought that doing things by myself was an unequivocal sign of being a loser. Moving thousands of kilometers from your country will inevitably put you in the situation, at least for the first weeks or months, to do things alone (or only with your partner, if you moved with him/her). Well, do I have to keep feeling miserable for each single thing I do by myself? Obviously I coudn’t keep on going like so, so I simply started considering that alone-time as me-time, which I could use to enjoy reflecting, being lazy, dedicating myself to projects I know I like, to explore the town by myself etc. I’m not promoting the hermit lifestyle here, but just saying that with the right amount of patience and practice, you can learn to do things alone and even liking it.
- You can totally live without bidet. And without lots of other stuff too. You can pretty much even bring your entire house with you but, chances are, that a big percentage of your stuff will end up being untouched or used seldom. In other words, your essentials can fit in one suitcase and one carry on. If you don’t use something in your everyday life in your hometown, why would you need it in the new country? Moving abroad or leaving for long term abroad experiences are a great chance to deeply analyse and fully understand what can be indeed considered ‘essential’. And, as much as I tought that not having a bidet was going to be ridicuolously difficult, well… news flash, after more than two years abroad, I still don’t have a bidet in my bathroom but I’m still alive. (Of course, I do wash myself, lol).
- You will change so much that once you’ll go back home for holidays or for visits, you’ll feel like you don’t belong anymore. It’s sad but true. Moving abroad is essentially a selfish choice: you decide to leave behind family, friends, things and places. You have to adapt to a whole new place, with different people around you, different places to live in and move around in, new habits to create and new things to experience everyday. You basically create yourself a new life, which will hardly fit into your old one. Or at least this is what I felt… Your new country will be your new home and, as much as you will feel attachment and still will continue to care about your hometown, when you’ll go back it will be hard and very awkward to feel like you still belong. You will be different, and people (even those ones that you have been knowing for ages) will treat you differently. Some relationships will change. It probably will be hard to accept, but moving abroad automatically creates a double version of you. And the two yous won’t necessarely work together and co-exist successfully.
This was just a thing I’ve been thinking to write for a while… and, as most of times, I just let my thoughts flow. Fellow expats, let me know if you have ever experiences these things during your abroad period, tell me your stories.
I’ll see you soon,