As some of you already know, a few years ago I decided living abroad. It wasn’t a spontaneous decision but it wasn’t a well thought one either. It would have been the second time when I would have left my hometown (first time being for one year in Erasmus Mobility).
I moved to Budapest, Hungary more than two years ago. First I thought it’s going to be temporary but here I am living with my Hungarian boyfriend and eating gulyas and langos like a true Hungarian.
It’s not easy living “abroad” despite what other euphoric movies are showing or what other idealized stories you heard or read. The idea of leaving became so romanticised that everyone expects you to be fine, happy and without worries on the fairytale of “abroad” land. It is nice and lovely and develops you as a character but it’s not that easy as you might think. So here I am writing this blog post about a few things that you should know before choosing another country as an adoptive one.
1. The beginning is always the hardest
After you finally find your rent or place to stay you can finally relax. You already finalised one of the most difficult parts of the moving process and you can happily go and explore your new city and surroundings. The view will be nice, the people will be even nicer and the food will taste amazing. But what do you do after this “introduction” chapter ends? Well, I can tell you what I did. I started to feel a little lost and lonely (by the way, I moved alone). The job started and everything was nice at work but it ended at 5 o’clock. It was hard not knowing anybody, not knowing the city and also being a little shy to use apps in order to meet other strangers from the city. So, I kind of feel lost and alone at the beginning but now that I look back I feel dummy.
There is plenty of stuff to do and the best you can do is to start classes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new language, a painting class or just dancing. It will open new opportunities, you will meet new people and it will make you feel better. Don’t let you become “the lonely wolf” even if it can be comfortable for the moment.
2. Home sick is real
In the first year it never happened to me to feel homesick and I had no idea what that meant. I remember some people asking me if I feel it and I replied pretty confident that no, I don’t. Few more months passed and while scrolling my Instagram I saw a photo of some friends in my hometown. It was a mixed feeling of missing my friends and family, some memories and melancholy.
Maybe it’s just missing the “old times” with your loved ones or just the need to take one more walk on your favourite street but homesick is real and it can happen anytime. It’s not sad at all. It’s just a new feeling to experience; most probably triggered by a random memory, a familiar face or maybe just a photograph.
3. Learning another language is not easy
Living in a country where you don’t speak the language will definitely give you patience; patience to learn a hard ass language (like Hungarian is for example), honesty to explain that you don’t speak the language, thick-skin to not be bothered by this and calm to walk away if any of these aren’t succeeding.
I already speak 2 foreign languages well and another 2 a little, so I thought “hell yes, bring another one”. But it’s not that easy. You have to make the effort if you want to learn another language when moving abroad. Don’t just think it will happen. In the end you will succeed, of course, but give yourself time to adjust your learning skills to your new lifestyle and your working schedule.
4. Live with all your proper documents
Regulations and laws are different from country to country, so you have to do your research in order to live mentally sane in your adoptive country. Sometimes the lack of a document can cause so much trouble that it can bring you down or make you lose time with other “detour” processes. Make sure you are registered, have a permit, health insurance and other documents that can make your life easier in your new country. Why complicate your life more?
5. Don’t expect to be the same
In my case, my personality changed. Maybe it’s because I don’t speak the language, maybe because I still feel like I am between strangers but something changed. At home I was confident, less observative and understandable. Now these and many others have changed.
People talk a lot about “finding yourself” during traveling and living abroad and they do so because of reasons to. It happens and it’s true. You have to adapt, you get to know more life stories and the desire of “fitting in” and succeeding will definitely bring on another side of yourself.
Living in another country comes with a big baggage of acceptance, embracing a new culture, struggles learning another language, respecting a different set of rules – lessons that shape you and stay with you for a long time. I think there is no way regretting living abroad. You can always go back. But there will always be the ones who will regret staying behind.