Moving abroad sounds like a dream come true and we often look at it in this glamorous movie kinda way, but the reality is very different. Today I´d like to share some of my experiences with you and talk about the things that helped me to settle in easier.
I lived overseas in four parts of the world. Now that I´m having a partner, who is also from a different country, I´m sure that in the future we will live in a few new places. I´m a german girl, who lived in Spain for a couple of months, in Australia for almost a year, in Chile for half a year and until July I´m for one year in France. Until this point, I have absolutely no idea where I and my partner will move next. It could be back to Latin America or somewhere completely new. It´s very likely that it will be a new country again, depending on where he will get the best job offer. Moving to a new country can be exciting, but it comes with lots of struggles and sometimes even loneliness. So if you just moved to a new place or are thinking about living abroad, here are some of the things, that helped me to feel at home in the new environment.
Be Open To Change
First I want to say that it´s totally normal, that you will struggle. Depending on where you move there will be language barriers and cultural differences. It will be challenging and part of your personal growth might be, that you start questioning some of your own habits and behaviours. Moving abroad is leaving your comfort zone, the sooner you accept the change the more you will enjoy it.
Explore Your Environment Quickly
Especially in the first two weeks I recommend exploring your new neighbourhood as quickly as possible. Make it your mission to get to know all the streets and surroundings. Find the nearest grocery store, a place where you can go for exercise, a library and all the other spots that you loved in your old city.
If you are exhausted and tired, which will happen quickly in a new place, cause your brain is so overwhelmed by all the new experiences, promise yourself one thing: Do not stay in, please go out. And believe me, I´ve been there. So often. And I would have preferred to lay on the couch and watch a series, often I did. But with my last two moves abroad I learned that the quicker and the more you go out in the first two weeks, the easier and more comfortable it will get for you afterwards. Take every opportunity that you can see, try out new things and give people a chance to get to know you. You never know where it will lead you.
Plan Daily Human Interactions
If you are someone who struggles with meeting new people and is not naturally outgoing then set yourself a goal of talking to strangers for 5 minutes a day. It can be starting to chat a bit with your cashier at the supermarket, someone in a café or on the train. You might feel frightened by it in the beginning, cause everything feels scary and new, but the more you get to know the people in your new place the less lonely you will feel. You can have human interactions almost everywhere if you want to. Those small interactions will also help you when you start to learn a new language.
Make Building Connections Your Highest Goal
When you move abroad you leave your trusted network at home, so it´s important to fill those spots with new people. Concentrate actively on making new friends everywhere. Whenever you meet someone, that you think is nice ask them to go for a walk or a coffee. You might think that you don´t have much in common with the person, but give it a shot anyways! Even if in the end you do not get along, you learned something new about your city. There is a high chance that you meet new people over that person and most people are really open when they hear that you are new in a place and offer some help or will introduce you or invite you to events. Especially when you move to a place with or for your partner it´s very important to find your own friends as well.
Find Your Community
Something that I underestimated is finding a community. This could be online or in person. A sport, a book club, a religious group – whatever you are interested in. When I moved to Chile I looked up a Facebook Group of germans in Chile and found some amazing girls on that side. By posting in the group I created a girl’s group. They were all super happy about it too, cause they have been living in Chile without knowing each other and we went for weekly dinners and even now that I´m not living in Chile anymore we are in contact. I can also recommend the website MeetUp where you find people to go to events together.
Share Your Adventures
Share your journey with others. You are making a ton of unique and super interesting experiences. Write them down and share them with the world over Instagram, a Blog or Youtube. Or it could be just for you in a diary or a scrapbook mixed with all the pictures and ticket cards of things you did. I love going back in time, when I look at the picture books of the last years with all the little crazy moments, that I might have forgotten already. This will also help you to realize how far you came. All the little and big struggles, one day in the future you will look back and smile cause after all you learned so much from them and managed them all.
Don´t Go Home (too quickly)
The worst you can do is go back before you settled in in your new place, cause you will just start missing stuff and people even more. Wait a few weeks or even months, until you really feel connected and have friends. Make sure you have something you are looking forward to going back to. The funny thing is, the longer you are away from your home country, the more you will realize how much you´ve outgrown it. Nevertheless, stay connected with your family and friends from your home country. Invite them to visit you instead. Let them see that you have a new life and you want them to be a part of it.
It Will Take Time
Trust the process and give it the time that it needs. You might not find a new best friend in the first month, but that doesn´t mean that you won’t get there at all. Or your new job or job colleagues might be different from what you expected, don´t give up. Often it takes more time than you think not only for you to settle in, but also for the others around to get used to you. Don´t be harsh to yourself, when things don´t go as planned or when you feel like failing. It´s all part of the process and often the change comes in the moments when you expect it the least.
Now it´s time to share some of your experiences with me! Have you ever lived abroad? What helped you to settle in?
I wish you all an amazing adventure,