As many Irish people do, you might be thinking about moving overseas this year or some time in the future. You probably know plenty of people who've done a year or two in Australia or New Zealand, or even somewhere else in Europe. But what is it really like to move abroad? I moved to Ireland from Australia last year and it was the best thing I ever did. So I'm here to tell you the things no one tells you about living overseas.
1. Even if you live out of home already, it'll make you grow the hell up
I've lived out of home since I was 17 but that doesn't mean I was fully prepared to move abroad. Moving overseas is like starting over again and you won't have Mam or Dad or even your friends to help you out. But once you start paddling, you make it to the shore.
2. You won't have a sense of where home is after a while
One of the scariest thoughts I've had was that now I had two homes on opposite ends of the earth, how will I know where "home" is? It took a while to realise that although it's cliche as hell, home really is where you are.
3. You get used to being without certain brands and shops
This was especially hard for me, what with all those weird Australian foods I enjoy like Vegemite and Milo and Tim Tams. But after a couple of weeks I conceded that I'd have to find replacements and almost 6 months on, I have a feeling I'll miss Taytos and Superquinn sausages when I go back to Australia. My advice: just go with the flow and if you desperately want something from home, get someone to post it to you as a treat. You'll be fine.
4. You need to stop converting everything
You will go crazy if you start thinking about how much stuff costs in your home currency. I remember when I first got here and was like "OMG €20 for a toaster?!!" because that's really $30AUD and toasters are like $7 at home. But after a while you just give up and start accepting it. It gives a reason to bargain hunt too!
5. You'll never regret leaving, only staying behind
Whenever someone asks me why I would ever swap sunny skies for cold, blustery ones my answer is simple: I don't think anyone was born to live and die in the same place. I would have regretted it if I stayed. If it's your dream to live somewhere else, do it! Do it as soon as you can. And don't let anyone dissuade you with their negativity about the weather or the people or the cost.
6. It gets easier
While it can be a huge adjustment mentally, it really, truly, honestly gets easier. Soon you'll get a routine going just like at home. You'll make friends, you'll go to work, you'll party. Getting set up is always the hardest but don't just give up when it's hard!
7. You won't be homesick as much as you think
Seriously. I thought I'd be dying for some sun but even a few weeks in I was like OK I'm fine with wearing 17 layers now and I hate the sun. Sure, I miss my friends and family all the time but I know they'll always be there and it's all a flight (or two) away. You'll honestly be too busy having fun and exploring to wish you were home.
8. There's no right or wrong way to live abroad
Oh my God. The amount of people you'll hear telling you what they did or didn't do, or that you've done it wrong etc etc etc will make you explode. You just do you. And ask for advice when you need it but don't listen to people who just want to shit on your plans.
9. You will learn to live with less
Living out of a suitcase has its perks. The main one is that you have so much less junk. Before I left Oz I got rid of almost everything I owned and it felt SO.GOOD. Now, I only buy things that I need and am pretty OK with wearing the same thing.
10. It's OK to have a bad day and wish you were back home
We all have times where we just want to throw in the towel but that doesn't mean you're a quitter. Cry your eyes out, ring your friends or your Mam, watch TV shows from home - just don't feel like a loser for doing it.
11. Nothing will change back home
Enter the guilt trip. Your friends and family back home will most likely guilt you into thinking you're missing out on so much and everything's different. But let me tell you: the local shopping centre will be the same, the streets will look the same, people will have been living in slow motion while you were away. Don't feel bad for leaving... EVER, OK?
12. You learn how to make friends all over again
Moving overseas is like going to a new school. You don't know anyone, and the cool kids certainly don't want to include you in their established group. But don't worry: you'll find people who actually want to be your friend. My advice is to join as many groups as you can and don't be shy about it. Join a Girl/Guy Crew in your new city, do some sports, just get out there. YOLO.
13. You'll realise who your real friends are
This is a bit of a difficult one because some people just can't keep up online communication regardless of whether you're in the same room or in another country. But for the most part, you'll be able to tell who actually is a real friend by the people who keep in contact with you.
14. You'll change
One thing I'm told by people who move back home permanently is that you change. Your experiences make you have a different outlook, feel more positive and happy, and it can be hard when people who didn't leave are just the same as they were.
15. You might have a different accent and not even realise
I'm trying my hardest not to adopt any Irish slang just as a personal decision but I have a strong feeling when I go back to visit I'll be whipping out "thanks a mil" and "ah sure look" every 5 seconds.