How to live abroad when you at the ripe age of 21 and do want to get the chance to discover what the world can offer you? Having no desire to “settle down” and “grow up” completely, with the bachelor's degree in hand, I moved to Germany to work as an au pair for a year. One thing that I knew for sure at that right moment - I wanted to postpone becoming a boring old adult. Moving to another country alone revealed to me the new world, the one that was unknown before, taught me priceless lessons, allowed me to immerse myself in the new culture, and overall uncover better myself as a human being. I doubt that I need to continue telling all the benefits of travel, they are obviously boring.
What I do want to mention is the hardest part of it, the one which won’t be heard so often as those magical benefits of an amazing journey abroad. Moving to another country, you should be ready to face not only the life-changing and awe-inspiring moments but also the bitter ones.
Let me tell you the truth bombs about my year of living abroad.
1. Distance is a tough thing for sure
The very first bomb in my list is definitely dedicated to the long-distance matter. You might say what a big deal, you won’t be surprised, and yes that’s true, but you just can’t fully imagine how it really looks like. Mind that your life on a different continent won’t suggest any of a little family get-together, enjoyable moments with friends and your favorite coffee gossip hour with your best ones, no shopping time, no chocolate and wine, nothing of those. The most painful the distance is, when you need your beloved ones the most, in the moment of total despair and disbelief, in doubts of your inner voices that might keep whispering to you “Am I at the place where I should be? Am I doing right staying here, and what’s the best for me at this single moment? Is this worth it all, or just another escape method for not growing up and diving into the real life of an adult?” No one says you won’t have friends abroad, no, no way. It goes about your inner circle that is impossible to substitute even with the new incredible people you’ll meet.
2. You won’t escape yourself, don’t even try to do that
There are millions of random clichés about how much traveling changes people and so on. I’m not going to repeat that, it’s already pretty well-established. Instead of that, I do want to assure you that even the biggest distance in the world ever won’t help you to escape from yourself. No matter how far away you go, you are still with yourself, with your fears and doubts, with your problems and worries, don’t expect the new place to solve your biggest problems. Anything you are suffering at home, you’ll be suffering abroad, let’s be honest. Yes, moving abroad will undoubtedly change you, but one thing to bear in mind, the new place won’t solve your troubles, it will only push you to face yourself and your problems. It’s not the magic pill, don’t kid yourself, it won’t work the way you’d like it. An amazing thing, wherever you go, you take yourself with you. Talking from hand-in experience, I should admit that the new place forced me to realize and find solutions to my old and deepest problems I’ve desperately been trying to ignore. But when I’ve been put into the new and strange environment, there was only I and Me by my side, an unexpectedly helpful thing I should say! “No matter where you go, there you are.”
3. Sickness will still take place in your life
Being sick at home when your mom is out there to make some soup and clean after you is different from the way you feel being sick abroad. When we are sick, we do need someone to take care of us, and how much you need it when you are more like a helpless child, than an adult at times when you feel so bad. Those dreadful moments when time stops and the whole world seems to be the curse for you, and you are there all by yourself, you do miss the ones who used to care about you.
4. Be ready to miss birthdays, holidays, and Sunday happy hours because life at home goes on without you.
Get your heart ready to shatter after the picture on Facebook of all your best friends at the favorite coffee shop, your sister getting a puppy; everyone is carrying on without you. Life is moving on, and you should accept the fact that you’re missing a chunk of it. Like it or lump it, homesickness is inevitable.
It’s not a big deal why you’ve decided to move away from home for a year or more, what was the key factor for your running away. This whole new world that throws you into responsibility and independence inevitably leads to your final point of growing up. That’s the moment where you start quickly growing up, putting the responsibility of decisions and actions on you, with no one to ask for any advice or help. Having no alternatives to step back and return home only after 5 months of living away, you start seeing things and life from another perspective like never before. Circumstances and your intentions to test yourself being millions of miles away from home will uncover the most remarkable and meaningful things in life, the ones that were intangible and unknown to you before.
You might consider your living abroad as just an extraordinary and exciting vacation with its own advantages and some disadvantages, but it does change and transform you most suddenly and astonishingly ever!