Ever since I announced that I would be living in London for half a year for an internship last year, a lot of you guys have started asking me questions about my overall experience on living abroad. Even though it’s only been six months, and not a year or more, I thought I would share with you the reality of living abroad because sometimes these exciting things aren’t all too Instagram-worthy behind the scenes.
It’s been a bit more than a year since I took that leap of living abroad and I’ve learned more than I could ever condense into one blog post. There’s just so much that went on internally, that I am still realising a year later.
It was the best thing that I’ve ever done and I am aware I am sounding a bit overdramatic, considering that living standards aren’t too different in Germany in comparison to the UK. But it was an opportunity to see new parts of this world, meet the most interesting people, try new things, find more about myself, gain new skills and learn a lot more about responsibility.
While there is so much magic that happens when you live abroad, there’s also quite the truth bomb. And I’m throwing some of them on you right now.
There’s so much paperwork.
The part that I hated and dreaded the most was the amount of paperwork I had to get done for it all. So time consuming, frustrating, anxiety-fuelling when there’s no answer and time is ticking away…
Long distance is hard.
Long distance friendships and general relationships are so. hard. It’s odd knowing that life is going on in your home town and you’re not there to grasp it. And your closest friends and family are not there with you to grasp the changes you go through. That can end up in dispute, especially when you’re changing and everyone else seemed to stay the same and suddenly you don’t understand each other very well anymore. Let’s not even talk about misunderstandings and every daily gossip turns into Whatsapp conversation and every event kind of sticks as a Like-reaction on your Facebook status or Instagram picture. It’s just not the same and it’s easy to forget everyone is on their own journey and you should ask about each other’s day.
You still get sick.
And your mum isn’t there. Your person of comfort isn’t right there by your side to help you out. You may call me spoiled, but I’m really the worst at taking care of myself. When I’m sick, I just lay there. I do nothing. I don’t go to the doctor, I don’t get meds. This results in things getting worse but I don’t care. It’s just an overall helpless feeling that you get. And homesickness comes with it, usually.
You can’t escape yourself.
Traveling changes you, no matter whether you go on a trip for a few weeks or you’re in a different place for a year. You change and you can’t escape yourself. But people often expect a dramatic transformation when they go away. Reality hit me when I realised that when I was hung up on someone in Dresden, I was still hung up on them in Malta. If I had crippling anxiety in Dresden, I would be, if not more, anxious in London. Moving abroad will change you, there’s no doubt about it. But it’s not going to solve your biggest problems as you might expect it to. I think when people escape to another place in attempt to escape their issues forget that being alone, by yourself, in a new place forces you to face yourself and your problems head on.
Have you ever moved abroad? If so, what are some realisations that hit you?