The majority of us have considered a move abroad at some point in our lives.
This has been heavily influenced by the enormous increase in other people relocating. It seems like the perfect career enhance in the age of cheap air travel and Facetime, but lemme tell ya’, a move abroad ain’t all sunshine and Sex on the Beaches…
We all know people who have started a new life abroad and their Instagram and Snapchat stories seems to show them spending 95% of their time on a sandy beach, drinking lattes by day and cocktails by night, and apparently doing little else.
But it’s important to bear in mind that peoples’ lives aren’t really like that. You’re just seeing a censored and glorified version of this person’s existence, controlled by them! What you don’t see are the sweaty nights where they’re unable to sleep due to a horrendous combination of homesickness and temperatures in the thirties.
You don’t see the endless paperwork they have to wrestle with in a language they don’t know. You don’t see the struggling to communicate with a doctor about that suspicious rash. You don’t see the lonely hours sat watching TV in their own language longingly trying to soak up a bit of home.
The reality is, it’s a lot of work and preparation to move abroad. You can find some companies who will lubricate the relocation process for you; once they’ve offered you a job that is. However you’ve still got an extensive checklist to complete before you can sleep stress-free. This includes finding a house, learning the language(s), getting a mobile phone, acquiring all your legal documents… the list goes on and on.
You also have to pack, and nobody likes packing; especially when you’re basically packing your life. Deciding what to take and what to leave can be a heart-wrenching and difficult task. I can guarantee you that there will be several things you regret taking and several you regret leaving behind. That bowling ball that Gran got you for your 18th birthday may sound like the perfect memento to take with you to remember home when you’re away. However, it weighs as much as 8 pairs of shoes, so you have a big decision to make… Will you be practical or sentimental?
You will upset your mum
Assuming you have friends in your home country, a move abroad is going to be one of the hardest things you ever do. Be prepared for tears, almost definitely some of your own, as well as unkept promises of being visited by your friends. Also, be prepared for friends not being as sad as you’d hoped they would be.
Then you start to question if they really liked you at all! Of course, in reality they have their own life and without being in regular contact with them every day, you naturally slip to the bottom of their list of priorities.
Your parents won’t be happy either. They want their grandkids growing up where they can access them regularly. They don’t want them to live in some country they visited in 1993 and decided never to go back because the water was brown.
Another thing to consider before you move abroad is this: if you have a pet then imagine the look on their cute, little, doggy, feline or…reptilian face when you turn around and say goodbye for the last time. The guilt will haunt you forever.
You’ll regret you ever put a toe out of that womb of familiarity. Of course you will have been expecting a big difference in culture before you stepped on the plane. But thinking you’re prepared and actually being prepared are hugely different things. You may arrive being open to new foods and routines while the spirit of adventure is still alive and kicking. However, before you know it you’re sat around a table in the blistering heat with flies on your face, eating bulls’ testicles, not understanding a word of the conversation around you and asking yourself, “Why did I ever move abroad?”
By way of food you’ll latch on to the scattered examples of familiar food brands you find in the supermarket. These will most likely include the ones you don’t like back home. You will live on them just because you’re so sad and homesick. The friends you make will be expats in similar situations who claim to be having the best time. They’re learning a new language every week and visiting several museums most afternoons. You’re only comfort is knowing that this is utter drivel and that they’re just as depressed as you are.
Anything could happen
Heaven forbid, but imagine if something did happen. Do you really want to rock up to an Albanian Accident and Emergency room at 4am, with only “hello” and “one beer please” in your armoury of local phrases? If you haven’t organised a working phone – generally something people leave till the very last moment – then any problems that you come across will be much harder to solve. If you get lost for example, it’s always nice to have Google Maps as backup.
More hassle when you change your mind
Like most expats you will have the inevitable bout of homesickness. One time it will be just that little bit too intense, and you’ll decide that enough is enough. It’s been a fun adventure but the comforts and familiarities of home are calling too loudly to ignore any longer.
Then you’ve got to go through the whole process again – except without the paperwork and the language barrier because you’re back in that amazing place they call ‘The Comfort Zone’! Whoever it was that convinced you to step out of your comfort zone clearly didn’t have a very clear idea of how nice, easy and, well, comfortable life is in there.
However, if despite all this doom and gloom (albeit light-hearted) you still feel that unquenchable twang of adventure ringing inside you and you have an unwavering urge to brave the unknown, then the likelihood is that you’ll be needing a job. Click here to check out the positions all over Europe and choose your location.