Why living abroad is more difficult than people think

When I told people I was going to move abroad, the first thing I heard was: “That is my dream” or “Wow, I’m so jealous”. The thing is that people often don’t know and forget that living in a foreign country is not all fun and games. As an expat, you expect life to be wonderful and after you realize that life in another country also has ups and downs, it’s hard to admit to people that life isn’t that great as you expected. That’s why it’s important to talk about those feelings both to let people know how you feel and what to expect when you move abroad.

Moving to another country is a daily challenge – and a test to get to know yourself. In the beginning it felt like I was on a long extended holiday but I knew that the holiday feeling wouldn’t last that long. I’m not gonna lie, there are a lot of advantages of living abroad but once I finally adapted to my new life, I started to realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Some days it even made me wish that I just remained in my home country.

Home is where the heart is…

It doesn’t matter what country you are moving to, your home country will always have a special place in your heart. It’s your safe place where you experienced your childhood, where you made life-long friends and where you even know when the cashier from the supermarket got married. The most important thing is that it’s the place where your family lives, which will make you feel like you will always be part of two completely different worlds.

On the other side you will also notice that the more you start adapting to your new life, you will start to feel more like an alien in your hometown. Some things that are normal in your new country might be weird in the country where you are from. For example, I’ve realized that life in Spain starts in the afternoon and that it’s perfectly fine to go to a bar after work during the week. While in Belgium, most people go straight home after work and that is usually when the day ends. The more you get used to the gestures and habits in your new country, the more you will start to feel distant from your old.

Life goes on

I think the hardest thing to realize is that while you are starting your new life in a land far away, life just goes on in your home country. Your friends will get married, have babies and you will probably miss a lot of it and mostly experience it through watching pictures on social media. It’s not easy to drop everything and take the first plane home when something happens. I sometimes had the feeling that I was missing out and that some days I couldn’t keep up with all the things that were happening back home. Therefore I also noticed that my friends were happy when I was around for a couple of days and that they would just cancel their plans to spend time with me.

It was a bit disappointing to realize that there were a lot of people that didn’t seem to care that I left. You will quickly notice that many friends and family don’t think it’s worth it or don’t have the money to get on a plane for the weekend. But then you will also see that some friends will come closer, even those where you didn’t expect it from. It was crazy to see how many messages I got from people I haven’t heard in years, saying they wanted to meet me before I left. It made me realize who my real friends are and that people actually miss you when you are not around.

Take the leap

I came across a lot of struggles on my path when I moved abroad but does that I mean it was not worth the shot? You have to be prepared for the good and bad things that will happen to you but every struggle was definitely worth the result. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone every once in a while and look up some adventure, because it would be a shame to look back at your life and see all the things you could have done.

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