Moving overseas is an adventure that I would recommend to anyone and everyone.
Since I moved overseas, I’ve grown as a person and discovered more about the world than I could ever have previously anticipated.
That said, it’s also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There are many downsides of expat life, which don’t always get mentioned.
I’d equally recommend anyone who is thinking of spending a decent amount of time abroad, to approach it with great trepidation, for the following reasons.
The Homesickness. Oh, the Homesickness
Homesickness is a funny thing, as it tends to hit you when you least expect it.
I was terribly homesick when I first moved to the UK and everything set me off.
There’s nothing you can really do to combat it, either. Just try to keep busy and distract yourself.
It gets easier over time, but it never truly goes away.
People Will Forget About You
It’s all rainbows and puppy dogs when you first move overseas. People say they miss you. They email you. They send you letters. They call you.
However over time, the contact becomes less and less. Emails go unanswered and your phone can remain silent for days on end.
It’s easy to forget that life in your native country is going to continue on, with or without you. We’re all wrapped up in our own lives and for some, it’s simply a case of “out of sight, out of mind.”
It hurts, there’s no doubt about that. However, it will teach you who your real friends are. The people who take the time out of their days to email you, send you Christmas cards or birthday presents, set aside time to Skype or even visit you, are truly your forever friends – the ones you know will always be around, no matter what.
Cherish them and make sure you do the same in return!
These are the friendships that can truly go the distance. When you reunite, it will be as if no time has gone by.
You Won’t Be Able to Avoid Culture Shock
It can be quite strange to live in countries with cultures similar to your own. An Australian in the United Kingdom. A Canadian in the States. An American in New Zealand.
Australian culture bears many similarities to that of the English. We’re skilled in art of self-deprecation, are equally as crazy about cricket and share a particular enthusiasm for the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.
So, I often get lulled into a false sense of security. England feels a lot like home, in more ways than one.
Then, someone will do or say something that will completely spin me out. Or I’ll unknowingly say something considered obnoxious and immediately alienate everyone in the room.
It’s an immediate jolt back to reality and can sometimes act as a trigger point for our old friend, homesickness.
You’ll Miss Key Events and it Will Bother You
Since I’ve moved overseas I’ve missed engagements, weddings, important birthdays and my baby brother’s graduation.
If you’re lucky, you may be able to time visits back home with some of these events. However you won’t be able to attend everything. You’ll disappoint people and feel like you’re missing out.
My advice? Stay off social media on the days you know something big is happening. You’ll feel better for it.
Your Life Won’t Magically Become Ten Times Better Overnight
There’s a lot to be said about living in the moment. If you’re not fully content in the life you’re living in your own country… who is to say you’re going to be any happier in another?
I spent many years in my hometown of Sydney, day-dreaming about what my life would be like when I moved abroad. Needless to say – I had pretty high expectations when I finally made the move to London.
It ended up being a much harder process than I had initially thought. I had to find a new job, a house, a gym, make new friends and get my bearings in a new city. These were things that I already had at home and had completely taken for granted.
It can take anywhere between six months to a year to settle into life a new country and during that time, you’re going to continually question why you ever left home.
Stick it out. It’s worth it, I can assure you of that.
You May Never Want to Return Home
You may not want to stay in your current city forever, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll want to go home. Instead you’ll spend hours looking at maps and researching places on the internets.
You’ll be plagued by the same questions, again and again. Where can you go next? Will you be able to find work there? Which part of the city will you live in?
The biggest problem with expat life, is that it becomes addictive. You’re continually doing new activities, meeting different people, traveling to the most interesting places.
Once you’ve had a taste of life overseas, you may never want to return home.
There are many downsides to expat life, but it’s worth riding them out. Life is not constant – it is a series of peaks and troughs.
The better you weather the bad, the more rewarding the good times will be.