7 Myths about Living Abroad After College

February 23, 2015
7 Myths about Living Abroad After College

When I graduated from college last year I knew I wasn’t ready for the typical 9-5 work grind, so when I was accepted to Israel Teaching Fellows, a year long fellowship teaching English in Israel, I knew I had to take it. I would be working for the rest of my life; there was no need to start when I was only twenty-one. I did not view it as taking a year off, but rather taking a year for myself to travel and explore.

I was finally ready to move away from home and experience another culture while I still had the opportunity to do so. When I boarded the plane from Newark with three oversized bags and butterflies in my stomach, I also carried with me a set list of expectations about living abroad. Now that I’m half way done, however, I’ve realized that none of those expectations became reality.

Here are the things that I thought I knew about living abroad after college:

7 Myths about Living Abroad After College

1. I’ll grow apart from family and friends back home

A friend recently asked me if I’ve gotten homesick since moving here, and I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. Yes, I miss my family and friends. I cringe whenever I see photos or watch snapchat stories. But I almost feel closer to loved ones back home since I’ve moved here, especially my parents.

When I was away at school, which was a mere three hour drive from my hometown, I spoke to my parents maybe once a week, in one short phone call; “Hi. Yes, I’m alive. Bye.” Now, however, we spend about an hour every week catching up. It’s hard not being able to call them whenever I want to because of the time difference, but when we do talk it’s always a memorable conversation. I feel closer to them even though we are thousands of miles apart.

2. I won’t make any close friendships

We’ve all heard that once you graduate from college making new friends is hard. So when I moved here, I was scared that I wouldn’t make close friends. I should have known that living with three girls and having fifteen more people from my program just minutes away meant that I would never be lonely.

My roommates have grown to be some of my closest friends here. We all come from very different places, South Africa, Australia, Minnesota, and New Jersey, but we have a lot in common. Not only have I made good friends while living abroad, I am also learning so much about different people and customs all over the world.

7 Myths about Living Abroad After College

3. I can’t plan everything

If I had to describe myself in three words, they would be talkative, bubbly, and anxious. I like to plan out every little detail of my day; when I will go for a run, cook dinner, and take a shower. It’s not that I don’t enjoy spontaneity, I just don’t embrace it as much as I should. So when I moved to Israel, I thought it would be exactly the same. Wrong. Israelis are laid back, leaving many things to the last minute. They are adaptable and flexible. Living here has helped me develop these qualities. If I get to school and find out that my first three classes are cancelled because of a field trip, oh well. I just have to change my schedule. I no longer sweat the small stuff.

4. I’ll never eat a good meal again

“I can’t cook.” A phrase I used throughout college and my first few months in Israel. An explanation for why I ate frozen foods or cereal for dinner. But I soon realized that “can’t” was just a substitute for being too lazy to take the time. Turns out following a recipe isn’t that hard. A few weeks ago I made homemade mac and cheese, and had to send pictures to my friends to convince them it was made from scratch. Since then I’ve made a few other homemade dishes, proving that with just a little bit of motivation, dinner doesn’t have to come from a cardboard box.

5. Not saving money is a problem

One of my biggest concerns about moving to Israel and living off of a small monthly stipend was that I wouldn’t be saving any money. Not only that, but I also would be dipping into my insignificant savings fund. But, I soon realized, who cares? I am having the time of my life.

When else am I going to have the opportunity to take a day trip to a kibbutz down south or spend the weekend traveling in the North? Yeah, I may never see that 300 dollars I withdrew from my savings account before Sukkot, but it bought me a visit to Akko, some amazing hummus, and awesome memories. I’ve learned that there’s no better way to spend my money than traveling and exploring this amazing country.

7 Myths about Living Abroad After College

7 Myths about Living Abroad After College

6. Party, party, party every night

In reality, I usually go to bed by 10:00 pm on the weekdays and around midnight on the weekends. And that’s okay. Yes, I am living in a foreign country and it’s tempting to go to Tel Aviv every night of the week to eat at cool restaurants or dance at clubs. But after a day on my feet chasing children, my bed and Netflix are usually a much more appealing option. In college, I worried about the status of my social life if I didn’t go out every weekend, but here I just don’t care. I’m not here to go out and get wasted all the time. I’m not saying it isn’t fun occasionally, but it’s just as acceptable to curl up in bed after a long day with a cup of tea and my most recent Netflix binge.

7. Learning the language will be easy

I laugh at myself for ever thinking this. I had practiced some Hebrew the summer before I moved here, so I thought I was halfway to fluent upon my arrival. It was more like I had the abilities of a first grader. Learning a language is hard, especially one with a different alphabet. I’ve slowly started making progress, but it’s definitely frustrating. Even if I go into a store and speak some muffled words in Hebrew the clerk will detect my accent and answer me in English. I’ve made it a goal to go into a store and have an entire conversation in Hebrew by the end of the year. Keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

Overall my experiences teaching English in Israel have been amazing. Yes, most of my expectations were false, but I am pleasantly surprised with the reality. I’ve gained a sense of independence for the first time in my life and I can’t wait to see what the next five months have in store for me!


7 Myths about Living Abroad After College

7 Myths about Living Abroad After College photo credits by Molly W and unsplash.

About Molly Winik

A recent college graduate who chose to live and teach English abroad in Israel for a year instead of getting a 9-5 job. Born in New York, but raised in New Jersey. I have a large blended family that left me one of six kids. And I have an unhealthy obsession with my English bulldog Bubba. I love to write and can’t wait to share my experiences and challenges abroad with other women travelers! Follow my travels here.

One thought on “7 Myths about Living Abroad After College

  1. Dad
    February 23, 2015

    Very nice! Nice cropping me out of the picture!

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