How living abroad changes you

Moving to England is one of the best things I have ever done. At the time, I was almost done with school and I had no real purpose or direction. No idea what I wanted to do with my life (I still don’t). A feeling many 20-somethings have because the world feels full of potential but you also suddenly have all of these responsibilities. And then there is the relentless pressure that you have to figure things out.

Making the decision to move to England was both spontaneous and a long-time coming. I’ve always wanted to live here but never really did anything to fulfil that dream. It wasn’t until I started to really hate the job I had that I decided to jump.

Living abroad is challenging. But it’s so worth it. It can be tiring to live in a different country, where they speak a different language. But it also opens up aspects of life that you never even realised were there.

One language isn’t enough

Living abroad, sometimes you will be trying to find a word for something and realize you can only express what you are trying to say in a different language. I notice this mostly when I’m visiting my parents back home and I actually wrote a post about forgetting your native language while living abroad, which is the strangest feeling.

Courage is important – but it isn’t everything

Whenever I talk to someone new, they tell me how brave it is to move abroad on my own. I don’t consider myself a particularly brave person. But I am determined. And there is a big difference between being brave and really wanting something.

You learn how to say goodbye

It can be because you’re moving to a new location or because you’re losing friends. Being an expat comes with a lot of goodbyes. But just because relationships are temporary, this doesn’t make them any less meaningful. And if your friends are from different countries, just think of all the travel opportunities this gives you!

You’ll learn to talk to strangers

After moving abroad, it’s much easier to meet new people. Whether it’s because you just need someone to talk to or because you feel invincible because you’re living somewhere where no one knows you. It’s also easier to go out for dinner by yourself or to talk to strangers on the bus.

Going home will never be the same

It’s weird to go home after living abroad. Because while you were off exploring the world, things at home haven’t changed. At all. Life continued as normal for your family and friends. And while this is obvious, it can be quite shocking when you yourself have changed so much as a person.

Your old beliefs will change

After seeing how people do things differently in different places, it becomes hard to cast any sort of judgement on how people choose to live their lives. You will begin to see beauty in people and things for different reasons than before. You might begin to question your old values and believes (I definitely did).

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13 Comments

  1. 12 March 2019 / 3:31 pm

    If I had the funds I would be living in Europe right about now.

    • maartjevansandwijk
      Author
      13 March 2019 / 6:28 pm

      Where in Europe would you go? 🙂

  2. 7 March 2019 / 4:35 am

    Great post! I do believe that everyone should have the opportunity to travel and even better live somewhere else. There are a ton of benefits.

  3. 6 March 2019 / 12:58 pm

    Never lived in a stranger longer, but we travel a lot with the family so far Lithuania is the best place to live and learn:)

  4. ufuomajesegineyahoocouk
    6 March 2019 / 12:36 pm

    Martha, you are very right when you say your beliefs will change and you need courage to live abroad. I shuttle between England and my home country, Nigeria and i can say everything you have stated in your blog posts are very true and the reality! I love England and i can see you love it too!

  5. 6 March 2019 / 4:35 am

    Living abroad is such a great experience. While I havent done so, I have had friends and family who have and loved it. I

  6. 6 March 2019 / 4:16 am

    I have to agree. I am Polish and live in Australia. I also lived in Cyprus before. and I have to agree- coming home is so different – everyone has their own lifes. Basically, anywhere you are, you don’t really feel home – cause in Australia I feel great but its not my “home” – there is still people asking where I am from, I still have accent and don’t get the same culture as them. But when I come home, I dont feel home anymore aswell… I think the whole world becomes your home then 🙂 I want to think that

  7. Rachel Mouton
    6 March 2019 / 2:47 am

    This is great! I want to do more travelling abroad and this just solidifies that for me <3

  8. Emily Fata
    5 March 2019 / 11:14 pm

    I’ve always thought about moving abroad, even if only for a year. I like the idea of putting myself out there and talking to strangers, to make new friends and fully immerse myself in the new environment.

  9. 5 March 2019 / 4:36 pm

    Travel and living overseas or not at home totally shapes who you are as a person for sure. While I didn’t live overseas – I did go to boarding school for high school and not a day goes by where I don’t see that experience as something that totally built who I am today and even though I was “miserable” while there, I am thrilled I went and have zero regrets!

    • 12 March 2019 / 2:56 am

      Living in another country will surely make anyone see a different perspective of life. You get to learn new cultures and see more of the world

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