What Nobody Tells You About Moving Abroad

It’s something that affects each and every one of us at some stage of our lives, whether it’s a family member, a good friend, or our wandering selves. We all know somebody that’s moved abroad. You get your flights booked, find a new home, sort out a job; you do your research and really think “Yes, I’ve got it, I can do this”. Then you step off the plane and boom, it hits you like a sudden torrent of rain. Here's what nobody tells you about moving abroad:

1. A sudden change in climate.

You’re either adding layer upon layer or stripping off from head to toe. It calls for a new wardrobe asap, especially if you plan on living there long-term. Let’s take my adventure into Asia as an example. During the summer months, I was stripping down to as little as modestly possible. Short skirts and t-shirts were the way to go (luckily for me, showing leg is the norm in that culture. I’d be considered insane here). Three months later, I was starting to pack on an endless abundance of sweaters, hoodies, thick scarves and a coat that was several sizes too big (I had to fit all my layers under it somehow) in order to maintain a decent body temperature. There is no in-between there.

2. Feeling constantly sick.

And I’m not talking about homesickness. The sudden change in diet can be a shock to the system, even if you’re simply going from one western country to another. The diet and lifestyle, although seemingly similar, is a whole world apart. Asia is worlds away from what I know in Ireland, so of course the food took some getting used to. I could never bring myself to eat chickens feet and blood soup though, yuck! I expected to be ill there, and I could say I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t all that bad. My trip to the USA, however, brought on a range of stomach problems, as I wasn’t used to consuming so much meat and fats – especially in the same meal.

3. Add some homesickness to the mix.

Yep, you’ll find yourself missing your friends, family, and the comforts of your hometown. You’ll often be surprised by how much you enjoyed living in your old town, especially the little quirks you once hated. That being said, there are those who never regret the move and never plan on returning. I always believed my small town was dull and boring with little to do. After spending many months embracing the fast-paced lifestyle of Shanghai, I discovered that my calm neighbourhood, the quiet walks to the beach and all the friendly and familiar faces weren’t all that bad. It made coming home seem very exciting. That being said, I do miss the constant hubbub of city life at times.

4. In some cases, a new language may be required.

This presents a challenge on its own, especially if you have to learn it from scratch. Even those who consider themselves relatively fluent in a language can come up against difficulties because local slang is rarely taught outside the community. Luckily for English speaking countries, most people you meet are bursting to find someone to practice their English with, so conversation isn't that hard. And ‘car’, ‘walking’ and ‘confused’ are easily communicated through facial expressions and actions, as well as words like ‘hungry’ or ‘bathroom’. It can be fun too. Even in the US, I had to pick up local slang fast as nobody understood what the hell I was saying.

5. You’ll move house regularly.

More often than not, the prospective homes we discover online are not what they're advertised when we visit them. In my case, I moved out to somewhere nicer and more convenient within the first two months. The first house I moved into in China was in a dreadful state, and one of the first things I did after unsuccessfully demolishing the cockroaches and other strange bugs, was to look for a nicer, newer and cleaner home. Fortunately for me, I found one, and had the time of my life with new housemates too.

6. Friendships.

You’ll make new friends abroad and end up staying in touch with a few unexpected cases from back home. My BFF and I are no longer BFF’s. We grew apart after I moved. However, I stayed in touch with people I didn’t think would be bothered to email me, and our friendship has blossomed since I returned home.

7. Costs.

The gasp of “This is how much!” will never be far from your lips. It always took me by surprise. 50c for a bus? What? €4 for an apple? WHAT?! Coming from a country where apples are practically free and public transport is extortionate, that was a surprise. You live and learn fast.

8. And last but not least…

Living abroad does have its struggles, but it has its fun side too! You get an opportunity to make new friends, discover new things and broaden your entire outlook on life. Whether you want to stay there or not though, is up to you to decide…

CollegeTimes Staff
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