Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or a bit of a home body, you’ve probably thought about moving abroad once in your life. Me? I always thought about travelling, but I never expected to be living in a foreign country permanently until further notice. I believe anyone can do it if they put their mind to it, put caution to the wind and JUST DO IT. So many people say “I’d love to live abroad but . . .” or “That’s great for this kind of person but that’s not me . . .”. Well, my friends, I’m here to tell you that you can move abroad just as much as the next person. If you don’t want to do it, that’s fine. But if you’re one of those people that has always wanted to but has put it to the back of your mind for some reason or another, this post is for you! Whenever I have a dilemma, like any normal person I turn to Google to give me justifications for a certain action. So here is your justification to move abroad, my lovelies. Moving abroad definitely is not easy; it’s challenging, exciting, stressful, crazy and normal all at the same time. But it’s one hell of an experience. Whether you live in a foreign country for six months or six years, you will benefit from it without a doubt.
- You become more independent
If there’s one way to grow your independence, it’s by leaving what you know behind and settling in a strange land. They say you first learn how to be independent by going to university, and this is true. You have to do your own laundry and cook your own food. But add an ocean between you and your family and this suddenly becomes a whole new challenge. When you have a bad day, you can’t just jump on a train and be at your parents’ house in an hour. When I go home, I have to book flights in advance to get the best deal, book a taxi to pick me up in the morning (my flights home are typically very early in the morning, uh), take an 1 hr 45 minute flight home to London and then get a train home to Wiltshire where my mum lives. Door to door, it takes me about 8 hours to get to my mum’s house, which isn’t bad compared to the journey that some expats have to take to visit their family. Some people have to travel from across the world! So this distance sure does make you grow up a bit. The thing is, you only have you. If you feel sad, you have to know how to make yourself feel better. If you’re bored you have to entertain yourself. Also, nobody is around to tell you what to do, so you can spend the day how you damn please. To quote Chandler from Friends, could you BE any more independent?!
2. You broaden your horizons
When you move abroad, you discover a new culture whether you try to or not. Things are just done differently in every country. There is a different language to handle, perhaps the religion of your new country is different to your home land. And of course the food will be different too. All of this is a challenge for sure and there will be some days where you just want to have your favourite food from home and everyone to speak English for goodness sake! And this is normal. But there will also be days where discovering a new culture is fun and you thank your lucky stars that you made the decision to move abroad. For example, I live in Wroclaw, Poland. While it is still a city, it is nowhere near as big as London where I lived before. Some days I yearn to just switch on my TV and have all the channels that we have back at home. But then I take an evening stroll around my neighbourhood and I remember how enriched my life has become since moving abroad. I live near what is called the Cathedral Island, which is essentially a cobbled-street area filled with beautiful churches and cathedrals. When I walk around this quint little part of Wroclaw, I think about where I could be living – probably sharing an expensive house in a suburb of London that is not as pretty as where I currently live – and somehow not having UK TV channels is fine with me. In a foreign country, your brain will come across something strange every day, whether it be something as big as a cultural event or something small as a food item you’ve never eaten before. And this is great for your brain – you know those brain training exercises you can do? In a foreign country, you train your brain without even knowing it by taking in your surroundings. I’ve been in Wroclaw for two years already and I’m still learning something new every day. You also see things from a different perspective. Christmas is always a good one for this. If you’ve never lived abroad, you get used to how you do Christmas in your home country and that’s all you know. When you see it from a foreign perspective, you get outside your own Christmas box and see how other people celebrate this holiday. In Poland, they celebrate on the 24th and that’s strange to me because in the UK, the 25th is the main day. But seeing this differentiation in the celebration of Christmas has made me more open to the idea of changing up my Christmas. Growing up I could never imagine Christmas in a sunny location, but now I’m open to Santa hats in the Maldives please. Essentially what I’m trying to say is once you experience a different culture and a different way of doing things, it makes you a much more flexible and accepting person. It’d be like only eating milk chocolate your whole life when you could be experiencing dark, white, that new pink variety they’ve discovered . . . more is more, right?
3. You’ll have a story to tell
If you live abroad for one reason, let it be this one. Telling friends and family of an experience you had while living in X or Y country, will certainly be a crowd-pleaser. People like a funny, unique story and you’ll definitely be able to gather some of those when you’re abroad. For me, it’s that time I got locked out of my flat and ended up with the decorator of the flat in a bar; he didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak French so that was interesting . . . oh yeah and the time I was studying in Greece but the universities were on strike . . . and getting an IUD with a doctor who didn’t speak English. People LOVE this stuff.
4. Amazing things become your normal
You know the things you find so cool when you go on holiday to another country? Well they could be your everyday thing if you live there. For me it’s the cathedrals I walk past everyday. They’re beautiful and something I’d take a photo of if I was a tourist here, and I get to see them everyday! By the way I do still take photos of them. Food is a big one too. Love pasta? You could get the real deal everyday if you live in Italy, just saying. Oh and the gelato . . .
5. You never know who you’re going to meet
Travelling anywhere, whether at home or abroad, opens the door for you to meet other people. When you live abroad, you could quite literally meet anyone. If you move abroad for work for a big company, you’ll likely meet people from all over the world. The same goes for studying abroad too. You can make best friends abroad and even meet a new love interest. Eighteen months ago, I reached a place in my mentality where I was OK not having anyone who I counted as a best friend close by. Then I started hanging out with an Indian guy who turned into my boyfriend and the love of my life. Being in Poland, you’d expect me to date a Polish guy. But no, when you live abroad expect the unexpected!
6. You can travel to places you might not be able to from your home country
Choosing to live abroad will open the door to future travel opportunities. OK, living abroad is different to just taking a gap year and travelling around – you’ll likely spend a lot of time in the place you decide to live in. However, you’ll be able to spend your vacation days in places you could only dream of going to. For me, living in continental Europe is great because I don’t necessarily have to catch a plane to go somewhere like I’d have to from the UK. Berlin is four hours on the bus and so is Prague. Eliminating air travel has made my travels a lot more spontaneous; if I want to, I can just jump on a bus to Germany or the Czech Republic. It’s just great!
7. You can have the same life as you would at home
Although expat life can be great with the foreign food and new culture to explore, you must also remember that you can have a pretty similar life to that you would lead at home. OK, the supermarkets might not have everything you need to cook your favourite foods from home and you don’t have BBC1 at the click of a button on your TV. But you can still have a routine; you still have to do that laundry and hoover the living room! You can even buy a VPN, allowing you access to online media players from home. Top tip: you can also use a VPN to access Netflix from different countries. Getting access to US Netflix was how I managed to watch The Great British Bake Off! Speaking of baking, you can even bake things from home. Hell, your apartment is completely your little escape so if you want to create a shrine to your home country in your apartment, you can! Put up a flag, order food stuffs from home online. If you look in my cupboard, you wouldn’t know I live abroad. I cannot live without McVitie’s biscuits in my flat!
8. It looks good on your CV
This one goes without question. I’m no expert but I was always told in the run up to my year abroad how good time abroad looks on your CV. It makes you a more interesting person, someone who isn’t afraid of challenges, who has gathered skills that perhaps other people from your country might not have, and it also shows that you’re OK with going out of your comfort zone. And it doesn’t matter how much time you’ve spent abroad or where you were, it just looks good.
9. You appreciate your home country a lot more
Before moving abroad, I took everything in the UK for granted. The food, the ease of living in an English-speaking country, the NHS, the landscape, the greatness that is London, just everything. It’s only when you live in another country and then visit your home land when you realise how easy people back at home have it. And you’ll never take it for granted again! Now when I go home, the train ride home isn’t just a train ride; now I take in the British countryside so much more and I actually feel more proud to be British. Don’t mention Brexit.
10. What’s the worst that could happen?
If none of the above reasons to move abroad have convinced you, use this one. Think about it. If you decide to up sticks and move across the world to Australia, China, Germany or wherever it is you want to go, what is the worst thing that could happen to you. You could die, but you most probably won’t! You could get mugged, but you could get mugged at home too. You could get sick, but you could also get sick at home too. And there is always an out clause. The best thing, to my mind, about living abroad is that you can go home whenever you want. You get to experience the perks of another country while still having your home land there waiting for your return whenever you want. There is absolutely no shame in deciding, for some reason or another, that you want to go home. Sometimes you want to and other times you have to. But what if the worst doesn’t happen and you have a great time? You cannot lose from this situation.
So those are my reasons for moving abroad. I hope you can find one reason that resonates with you. And just remember, nothing bad ever happened to someone who just tried living abroad. I was one of those people and four countries later, I’m still doing it.
Check out more of my rambles …
- I have a podcast now!
- 2020: Has Anyone Actually Had a Good Year?
- Green smoothie
- Healthyish chocolate smoothie recipe
- Going home and then coming home