7 Things to know before Moving to Another Country Alone
So you're ready to move abroad, you packed your bags and said goodbye to your current life to go on a big adventure in another country? Or maybe you're just day dreaming about living life elsewhere and it still feel far away and almost impossible?
In both cases this article is for you, dedicated to all of you beautiful souls planning to move by yourself out in the BIG big wild world !
Why should you even listen to me?
I'm not a travel blogger or living abroad expert, I'm just an Italian young woman and I've been living in Paris for the past 6 years ( I'm still surprised of how the time flies!) and in this corner of the internet I'm sharing pieces of my own experiences and opinions.
Said that I really hope you can get some value out of my words and the words from the friends I chatted with to get some more ideas to help you move abroad with ease and flow !
About 6 years ago I took the decision of coming to live in Paris for a few months to work in an internship opportunity here in France just after the end of my Bachelor Degree in Business. I wasn't a big fun of french culture and I spoke VERY little french at the time, so I came here with a light spirit and simply a desire to live life abroad which was something I had dreamed for all my life.
I didn't know anyone here before moving so I was pretty much a 21 years old fresh graduate figuring out all this "french life" thing by myself !
During that first few months of internship I was exposed to a very international community by living in a big Student Campus called "Cité Universitaire" in the south of Paris and I had such a great time that I decided to stay here to continue my studies in Paris, and the rest is history :-)
During this time I met lots of friends wanting to move abroad or pondering this step in their lives, and since I'm very passionate about this topic I decided to share my top tips about deciding to move abroad !
7 Things to know before Moving Abroad Alone
1. Believe that you can
I guess this may seem so obvious, but confidence is first of all a DECISION you take. So start from deciding that you're going to be successful, that your dream will come true or if you already have a plan, that everything will turn out perfectly.
Life is full of uncertainty and unexpected events, and I think travel is a condensed version of life because it makes you face your limits straight away and this can be very scary. But If you're planning to move abroad, that's what your daily life will look like everyday.
You know you're new in a country when you check the metro plan all the time, when you google how to say "lightbulb" or "bread" when you enter into a shop because you forgot how to say the word or you never even learned it ( I actually still do it after 6 years in Paris !!) , you find yourself wondering around your neighborhood because you got lost ( or is it just me?!?) and end up spending a few weekends alone because you still have no friends in the city. And the list goes on!
I'm not saying these things to put you down, but just to make you know that it's OK; we all do this, we all go through these steps, and you can too!
2. BE OPEN TO ALL IDEAS AND EXPERIENCES
So this point it's an evolution of the previous one.
When you move abroad you will have new experiences. You will hang out with people you would have never imagined being friend with because so diverse and "far" from your home friendships. You will see incredible places that will take your breathe away but you will also find yourself walking by mistake in the "dangerous" neighborhood.
You will be immersed in experiences that will give you so much joy and you will learn a lot on how to survive, how to pay your taxes and get your social security working ( Hello France ;-) .
You will love it one day when you're having the most amazing picnic in front of the Eiffel tower with awesome people. You will hate it the day after when you will miss home and your sister a lot.
I'm not asking yourself to be "strictly positive" all the time, that's not my objective at all.
Just be OPEN to feel all the feelings, and accept them as part of the journey. And say to yourself "This too shall pass" on the bad days.
Opening up will really allows you to let go of the control and old beliefs you have built up during the years and welcome in the lessons and the growth waiting for you.
3. DON'T BE AFRAID TO MAKE MISTAKES
One of my closest friends here inspired me on this one. And it's SO true.
When we are at home we're often in a protected space, in our comfort zone. A space that we have carefully crafted around our needs over the years.
We have mastered the basics of our everyday life . Our favorite local cafes and the hairdresser that have been doing our hairstyles since we were kids. The best bakery and the worst traffic times. Maybe we have our best friend living two steps away and our grandma making the Sunday lunch. We certainly speak our language pretty well to communicate our needs and desires.
That's our life and we've mastered it at perfection.
But when you move abroad all of these safety nets are gone. And you will find yourself being afraid of even speaking to call a taxi or ask for you baguette ( sorry for the many french references ;-).
So you will make mistakes and you will feel so ridiculous. There are days in which I still forget basic words, or mix up one for another and make a fool of myself.
But in that cases focus on the achievements you have made.
You are a BADASS ! You're living in a completely new environment speaking a language you learned 3 months ago. Congratulate yourself instead of letting you down.
You're doing great so be proud and celebrate all the baby steps you take!
4. LET YOURSELF CHANGE
I absolutely LOVE this one.
Change is inevitable . We constantly change both on the outside and inside. I read somewhere that all our body cells are replaced over a 7 years period, which means that 7 years from now you are basically another human being!
So if you move abroad with the idea of sticking with your old self as much as possible. Then you better book your flight back home! And I'm not even kidding ;-)
I remember some years ago when I was doing trips back home in Italy for the holidays, a lot of people I met where looking at me saying "Omg, you look so french now! You changed your style. Even your way of moving and speaking is so Parisian now!"
And I would get so frustrated because I was proud to be Italian and as much as I liked the "french style" I wanted to keep mine well grounded in my culture and I still have this need to "look like the other girls" and homologate with them. I didn't want to feel different when I was back home.
But still I was. And when I simply accepted that I had changed and I wasn't the girl that left few years ago, and that probably I've always been different, I felt so much better, and so proud of who I became.
So now when someone tells me "Oh you are so different, you have CHANGED", I reply on the line of "Thank you" !
5. YOUR INITIAL REASON TO MOVE MAY EVOLVE INTO ANOTHER TO SAY
That's also a juicy one and I feel it's pretty much true for most of the people I know that moved abroad.
You move for a reason. It can be your studies, an internship ( like in my case) , to join your partner, to learn a language, for the adventure, for the nice weather.....
But very often the reason that make you stay can evolve into something completely different, and again that's ok.
Our "safety" mechanisms may cringe at the idea that the very clear reason why you're moving may not be so clear anymore after a while. That you will reach a point in which you put under discussion EVERYTHING in your new life.
And that's also part of the journey. And in my opinion the REAL plan that the Universe wrote to lead you there.
For example I moved for a 6 month internship which was over 5 years ago. Then I stayed unexpectedly because I wanted to study abroad and I said to myself "Why not stay here?". And now I'm still living in Paris doing a completely different career and facing completely different challenges and satisfactions than before.
A friend of mine moved for love, and then when the love was over she questioned her stay here, if it did even make sense to stay, and it did for completely new reasons that created a beautiful independence and career.
Just go with the FLOW !
6- YOU WILL FEEL LONELY , BUT IT CAN BE FOR THE BEST
I mentioned this before but it's an important one. You will likely spend more time alone in the first few weeks after moving alone than you have before, and this can be a good thing.
When we are alone, we face ourselves , sometimes for the very first time,
We realize how messy we are, how we procrastinate before solving a problem, and how our personality shows up in unexpected ways,
But it's also a beautiful time to get to KNOW yourself without all the distractions of the life back home.
It's like to see yourself naked for the first time, without all the "accessories" you were used to have before. And it can offer a time of reflection and discovering your independence while immersing yourself in new hobbies and experiences.
Cherish this precious time!
7. BE PATIENT
This sums up a lot of previous points. Be patient because all the things you will create in this new life are in fact NEW, and they will take time to feel comfortable and aligned with you sometimes.
I honestly took years to find a tribe that really resonated with me, and I couldn't be happier about the people I'm surrounding myself with now. But it took a LOT of time to feel good in this community.
It takes time to adapt to the food, to the habitudes, to the overwhelming number of cake shops with macarons around you and the people complaining on the metro ( sorry I'm digressing a bit here) , to the language, and to even find your daily points of reference like a supermarket or an esthetician !
Simply keep on going, DON'T GIVE UP.
8. ( A BONUS ONE) IT'S TOTALLY WORTHY
I want to conclude with a bonus tip.
That all the challenges you'll face are totally worthy. So if were still doubting your move, GO for it!!
It's going to be the best time of your life, you will feel so alive and present and excited about this new life.
And regardless of how long the experience will be, you'll get so much beauty and crazy memories and growth out of it :-)
Did you move abroad and want to give some tips to a friend moving abroad? What were your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them? Share your tips in the comments below and I would love you to share this article with people that may be interested in this topic !