If you’ve decided to move abroad (live) in a foreign country, here are some of the things I’ve learned from my own experience:
- You could never be prepared enough.
Even though you’ve spent countless amount of time going through Google, searching for information, or browsing websites with tips and tricks, or looking for housing, you are still not prepared enough. Maybe you’ve even been on a little vacation to the city you are moving in, you’re still not prepared. Every little thought or image you had for what’s ahead of you will clash into the reality harder than you thought. That should not discourage you. Just don’t expect too much because you might be disappointed or surprised, but on the other hand be positive and enthusiastic about your journey!
- The first few weeks always seem like a vacation.
It is not! You may feel the urge to visit tourist destinations, or try every restaurant, go to every bar, explore, spend money on a lot of things you probably don’t need – DON’T. There will be plenty of time to do all of this, trust me. Eventually you’ll get sick of all the things and places tourists find fascinating. Think twice because even though it may seem like you’re on a vacation – you are not, and you will regret spending money on useless things later on when you have to pay for electricity, or heating, or water, or food, or when they ask you for 3 x times the rent to make a contract. So no matter how you feel, think more in long-term, because you’re there to stay.
- Depression will find you eventually.
It is important to realize that you’ll be leaving everyone and everything you love, and you’ll be starting over on a blank page. No known places, no memories, no friends, family, nothing. Yes, it is very depressing, and if you let nostalgia and homesickness take over, you won’t be able to cope with all of what’s ahead. The important thing when depresses is to realize it and to admit it to yourself and to someone you share with. Don’t let depression ruin everything for you! I’ve seen people giving up and moving back home because they are sad, homesick, or simply lonely. Always remember why you started, and ask yourself: Did I go through all of this trouble just to give up. Take it from a shy, anti-social girl that’s been there and done that – everything works out for the best eventually. You will make a lot of friends, you will have a lot of loved ones, you will party and you will make a lot of memories. The first year is always the hardest.
- Asking questions is a must.
As you may not know everything for all the problems you encounter, it is essential to learn to ask people questions. I’ve never been comfortable doing so, when I moved from home I was afraid exactly of this – being independent. You will have to overcome this fear and become more easy-going in order to survive. You’ll have to deal with banks, city halls, renting agencies, delivery companies even. And trust me, you can’t find everything you need on google, so don’t be afraid to ask. E-mails, phone calls, you name it. Having a native friend who helps you is a huge relief, especially if you don’t speak the native language.
- Don’t trust people so easily.
I’ve been scammed a lot, you won’t believe it. When people see young, disoriented people, they move like sharks, they’ll skin you and eat you alive. Especially different government organizations and private housing agencies. Do not trust everything they tell you, because at the end you might end up paying a lot of money for things you could’ve totally avoided. Read the small shrift and once again, ask a lot of questions.
Anyway, no matter what you read you will still find a lot of obstacles along the way, but at the end it’s all so worth it! Just enjoy and love the life you live.