4 Things No One Tells You about Moving Abroad
Some time after you make the leap and decide to feed your wanderlust cravings and plunge into the world of living abroad, reality happens.
It’s obvious that you’ll miss your best friend’s 25th birthday or another happy hour, but not often are you told the about “the unexpected” that life will throw at you. The reality is life still happens even while you’re in a brand new foreign land.
In the two years I’ve been living abroad life has thrown a few doozies my way. Some of those were not as difficult to bear as others, but I’ve gotten through them –sometimes gracefully and sometimes with a box of tissues and a bigger box of chocolates.
Everybody has their own doozies and sometimes it’s hard to confide in a budding friendship about them. So here is what no one told me before I moved abroad.
1. You’ll miss the big stuff
In one short year I’ve missed countless birthdays, engagements, and even a close friend’s wedding. But worst of all, my uncle was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. He died last August. No one tells you that those things could happen. You’ll realize you have absolutely no control over when these things happen.
If one thing from Catholic school has stuck with me, it’s that “Everything happens for a reason.” You moved abroad for a reason, even if you don’t know it, and life will go on; and you’ll have no say in the matter.
2. You have to make tough decisions
Are you going to buy that plane ticket back home?
After I got the news that my uncle had passed, I immediately began searching for flights back to Chicago to be home for the funeral. But, after many long talks and countless texts with my family, we decided it wouldn’t be the best use of money. That sounds harsh and cold. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. Money is always tricky business.
How are you going to be there without being there?
For those birthdays, weddings, and maybe (hopefully not) a funeral, take advantage of technology. Send your mom some flowers, a pizza on your brother’s birthday, a nice long email to your grandma detailing everything new you’ve seen, or even just an embarrassing photo to post on your friend’s Facebook page.
3. Long distance requires effort – even with your friends
Anyone who has tried a long distance relationship knows exactly how hard that is and how much work it requires.
But nobody tells you how hard a long distance friendship can be. It might not seem like you would need to nurture a solid 20-year-long friendship, but you’d be surprised by how many inside jokes you’ll miss and how your friends’ lives will have changed since you left.
Setting up a time to Skype is sometimes easier said than done. For more frequent communication my friends and I prefer group chats to tell each other the latest gossip and just to send an old-fashioned “How are ya?” We also really enjoy sending each other multiple Snapchats daily. Those 10-second photos can really help you feel in the loop and connected.
4. Life at home doesn’t stop
Without noticing it all, you sacrifice quite a bit by moving abroad. You’ll miss your friends entering into new relationships or even marriages. Thanksgiving dinners and Fourth of July barbecues will come and go, and even the unexpected could happen.
Sometimes I wish I could hit pause and rewind on my life, but I don’t live in an Adam Sandler movie. You’re living a whole new life in an amazing new country, you’re making new friends, and hopefully you’ll be making unforgettable memories on your grand adventures. As your life moves onto the bigger and better, so will everyone else’s.
Top photo credit: Uwe Schwarzbach