It’s almost been a year since taking the plunge of moving and there has been a lot that has been learnt. I’ve managed to squash it into 12 points.
1. When you first arrive it feels a lot like a holiday.
You are on your own schedule, exploring your surroundings, going on adhoc adventures, eating different food. It’s a good bit of fun!
2. It’s likely you will feel home sick after the holiday phase.
After the first month rolls over, you might start thinking things like: “I want to go home”, “I miss my family”, “I miss my friends”, “Why am I here again?” Months 1 – 3 can have a lot of that and it can be very difficult to deal with this change. Having the technology and means to call up friends and family for some encouragement can be a great help! This can be alleviated depending on how quickly you make yourself at home. Find a job, find a place to live, find your preferred local grocer, set a new routine.
3. You start to realise how foreign you sound.
This is a rather obvious sounding one, but depending on the languages spoken in your new country, the heaviness of your own accent and everyone else’s, it can be tricky to navigate your new communication landscape. Sometimes it is helpful to learn how to pronounce words and use phrases so it matches the lingo of your new country. It helps you to be better understood, but for the most part your accent is normally a conversation starter which is a good thing!
4. Your quality of life will most likely change.
It can either be in a good way or challenging way depending on the country and the area. Factors like safety and security which causes you to adapt your activities and behaviours. When I moved to Ireland I had to adapt my behaviours to my new environment. I had to learn that I could walk around by myself, go out on the streets after dark, catch trains and be safe – obviously using common sense and being observant!
There is a lot that can be said about always being observant, careful and doing research on an area, but adapt your behaviours to your new context. I realised that in winter it gets dark at 4:30PM and I could not avoid going out in the dark if I wanted to get home from work, or go to the shops after work. One day I was walking home in the dark and I heard hurried footsteps behind me. My first instinct was to freak out, run across the road and get home quickly. When I looked behind me it was an old lady carrying her groceries. So much for that mild panic attack.
5. Your social life will start from scratch.
Another obvious one that is often overlooked: You’re the new kid on the block. You previously never had any shortage of social engagements, now you need to start from scratch! It takes a bit of breaking out of your comfort-zone to start from scratch.
6. You have a whole new turf to explore.
There is nothing quite like the experience of being a permanent tourist and having a whole new country to explore. Hundreds of tourist attractions, popular destinations and hidden gems all at your disposal and the great part is that you don’t need to go far to see something new. Simply walking around your new neighbourhood is great because it’s new to you.
7. There is a new culture for you to experience.
Getting to know the traditional music and dancing and food is a great way to connect with locals and get acquainted with the joys of experiencing a different culture.
8. There will be new hobbies available to you to try out.
Between picking up a traditional instrument, trying out a sport unique to the new country or simple things like trying something you didn’t have the bravery to try before.
9. Friendships will change.
Since you are no longer in close proximity to one another things won’t be as effortless as they were before. You can’t just call up your bestie and go for a walk or a drink. It is one of the biggest tests of a friendship to be away from one another, but friendships which are meaningful will last regardless of how often you talk, how often you see one another. When going back to these friends, it feels like no time had passed and you easily pick you pick up where you left off. I have learnt that with my girls who are like sisters to me, the bonds don’t just disappear.
10. Your diet may be different.
The food is likely to be a bit different and your diet will probably change a little. Things like fruits and vegetables are the biggest things that can change and they might even have different names. Certain meats might also be unavailable so you’ll just need to be a bit flexible! Finding out what is naturally produced in your new country helps even though a lot might be imported.
11. It’s the turning over of a fresh leaf.
You have the opportunity to create a new life for yourself and put yourself forward as the best version of yourself that you can be, be adventurous, get inspired to do things you always wanted to do but put off.
12. Reunions are the best.
You enormously appreciate seeing your friends and family when you do see them. You can’t get enough of them and you can’t wait till the next time you are together.