Moving abroad, starting a new life in a new country… Have you ever thought about it?
I feel very fortunate I’ve been able to create a life that gives me the freedom to live wherever I want, to travel the world and to take off on another adventure when I feel it’s time for something new…
I love it and I hate it at the same time. I hate leaving my (new) friends and I hate knowing that there will be things from every city, village or island I once called home I’ll miss forever. But I love leaving as well. It signifies a fresh start, a departure from the old and overrun and the beginning of something new: a challenge, an adventure, the unknown.
Starting over is about opening your eyes again. New experiences are the reason we live. While we enjoy comfort, we crave experience.
But what really is so great about moving abroad and starting over?
1. Moving abroad takes you out of your comfort zone
The moment you arrive at your destination your new life starts. Your new life in a place you have never been to before, with a culture that is often completely different to your own. Everything here is new to you. From the streets you walk on to the food they eat here… You get to experience everything for the first time… it sounds like an exciting new adventure! But, unlike the tourists you’ll probably see around you, you are charged with errands and chores now and unlike the locals you have no idea how to accomplish anything on your to-do list. You’ll have to figure it all out, over time. And although at times it will feel overwhelming and you will feel hopelessly lost, after a few weeks you’ll look back and be amazed at how much you have achieved, how much of a life you have already created for yourself. Starting over has taken you out of your comfort zone and challenged you to make the most of it and, without realizing it, has shown you what you are capable of doing.
2. Starting over is great for your social skills
You just moved abroad alone, you’ll now have to meet people to make your stay enjoyable. I’ll be the first to admit that that was, at least for the first few times I started over, the thing that worried me most: how will I meet people? But trust me on this, it’s much easier than you think! Locals in general are quite curious about ‘the new kid in town’ and expats have all been in your situation and are therefore normally very willing to help you get settled. And yes, you probably will feel lonely at some point. When the new wears off or when it takes you a bit longer than you hoped to make new friends… but that’s all part of the experience and will make you a stronger, more independent person in the end.
3. Moving abroad teaches you to question the status quo
There is almost nothing you’ve learned that is incontestable — everything from table manners to hygiene is culturally relative. Every culture has it’s clear distinctions on what is acceptable and what’s not. However, to the outsider coming in, who brings with him a set of different, but still clearly marked, cultural “dos and don’ts”, it can cause quite the clash of viewpoints. From getting used to eating with my hands in India to trying to understand and respect why many men in the Maldives want their wives and daughters to wear a headscarf… Living surrounded by so many different cultures and making friends in all those countries has truly broadened my horizon and has made me question my beliefs.
Living abroad gives you the opportunity to look at life through someone else’s eyes and that is priceless.
4. You’ll learn material possessions do not equal happiness
You don’t have to move abroad to realize this of course but there is something about moving abroad with one suitcase and starting a new life that really proves it’s not about what you own in life but what you do with your life. I cherish pictures and little gifts from friends but I’ve learnt that owning an expensive TV or an fancy coat won’t make me as happy as experiencing a new country, tasting its food and talking to its people. The unique experiences you’ll have while living abroad will stay with you forever and enrich your life.
5. Anything seems possible
Starting over shows you what you are really capable of doing. It shows you how strong you are and how you can overcome pretty much anything. You are free now. Free to start over again, free to stay or free to go home with an amazing story to tell.
6. Moving abroad truly changes you
You have experienced a new culture, a new way of life and you have built a life for yourself. Believe me, it won’t be a perfect life, as no life is, and as any other life it will have had its ups and downs but you did it and you’ll notice that you have changed, grown, experienced so many new things and learnt quite a bit about yourself along the way.
“And suddenly you just know…
It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings”
– Meister Eckhart