The benefits of moving to a new country are well documented – exciting new experiences, personal growth, travelling, new culture, people (and in some cases, language) but the reality is that it’s not always a walk in the park. If you were to ask me what the single hardest part about moving to a new country is, I’d probably struggle to give you just one answer.
Having been in Melbourne for over a year now, I’ve experienced the highs and lows of living abroad – namely that nervous excitement that puts you on the verge of bringing up your last meal. Whether it’s been starting a new job, trying to secure a new property or simply making new friends – the panic always kicks in.
You Feel Like An Outsider
Even living in Australia, a place not wildly different to the UK, I still often feel like a stranger. I’m not part of the majority anymore, as I’m the one living in a country with a culture that’s different to mine. I’m often reminded that as I’m on a visa, I’m not entitled to the same things others are – and that can be defeating sometimes. The longer you live abroad, the less of an outsider you feel, but it can be a difficult position to be in and takes some time to get used to.
Life Before Seems So Far Away
Other than the obvious physical distance between your old life and new life, the emotional distance is also there too. You’re leading an entirely different life to the one you did before – with new daily routines and new people. In my case, everything in Australia is upside down – the timezone difference is day and night, the seasons are polar opposites – which can make it hard to relate to what is going on back at home. Part of the beauty of this new experience is the excitement of the fresh start, but it’s also the tough part at the same time.
It’s Not Always Perfect
As much as living in a new country is wonderful, you shouldn’t have the expectation that everything will be perfect. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can fall back into a work-life rut, and you’ll find that the vision you had in your mind of what life would be like, doesn’t always come to fruition. I find myself getting frustrated or annoyed at the way things are done here – because I’ve always known it to be so different. No place can be 100% positive all the time, so it’s important to be realistic about that before you move.
Everyone You Know Are So Far Away
This is one of the obvious ones, and usually what it comes down to for people considering a move abroad. You’ll be far from family and friends, at least physically. Whilst nowadays it’s not difficult to connect via Skype, Facetime and various other technologies – the reality is that you are far away, and people aren’t always awake or contactable as readily in your times of need. It’s tough to choose a world that’s far from those you love, but it doesn’t mean that special moments between you can’t exist. Real friendships can stand the test of distance, and provided you put the effort in to maintain them – it’s manageable. That said, booking a trip home can be so exciting – to know you’ll get to spend some quality time with family and friends, even if it makes it harder to come back.
Making Friends Is Hard
People always say that the older you get, the harder it is to make friends. Adding in a new country and culture on top of that, and things definitely get harder. You have to be willing to say yes, be more outgoing and brave and eventually things do fall into place. I’ve been here a year and don’t have a large friendship group by any means. That said, I’m not lonely. I work with lovely people, I have my boyfriend’s family out here – and I’ve made some friends of my own. My life is full and busy, but it’s not always been easy.
Despite the challenges that come with moving abroad and settling into a new country, I have no doubt that it’s worth every bit of struggle. Living abroad changes you in ways that nothing else can. You’re forced outside of your comfort zone and that is a huge step from a personal growth perspective.
If you never leave, you’ll never change and never become your very best self.