5 Lessons You Learn When You Move Abroad

Sometimes you have to try things out to find out whether they work or not. Not just sit around and think about them, tossing and turning in bed, questioning the what if’s until you fall asleep. You just gotta pack your entire life into a suitcase, hop on a plane, make a new home in a new city and wait and see if it works.

After three years abroad across two continents, here is what I’ve learned:

1. You won’t be able to control everything

At home, life is predictable and familiar. You know exactly what to expect. On the odd occasion when things go sideways, you know exactly what to do to fix it. The same thing can’t be said when you move to a foreign place. Nothing has spat me out of every comfort zone I knew more violently than moving abroad.

My first few months here were difficult. The time difference made reaching friends and family back home a fairly difficult task. The process for getting a visa turned out to be more complex than expected due to recent changes I wasn’t prepared for. I found myself without a visa, no longer able to find legal employment or apply for a business license. I couldn’t even leave the country without incurring a hefty fine. As someone who has always been ambitious with the need to keep doing and keep moving, I felt misplaced, trapped and lonely. The dreary, grey and unbearably cold European winter, where the sun hid behind the clouds for months, ensured any sparkle of positivity left within me would be extinguished. I found myself crying a lot. I was aching for my independence.

Which leads me to…

2. Everything will be okay

The wonderful thing about life is even if you feel your world is coming to a halt, the earth will still continue to spin.

The sun eventually came out, the days became longer and the flowers started to bloom. In the springtime, my residency permit was granted and work closely followed. I discovered the right people to spend my time with and the right activities to spend my time on. Summer soon arrived and travel became my new obsession. I made huge strides with my side projects and hobbies. My language skills improved immensely and I regained my independence. I had finally found my place on this side of the world.

Maybe it wasn’t so much of a lesson, but rather something that finally sinks in when you step out into the world. You will be fine. Life is good sometimes and bad others. You just gotta keep going and get through the bad times, because the good times will always be waiting ahead for you.

3. There is no place like home

Moving abroad has made me realise just how many things I took for granted in Australia. The vast amounts of nature, the wide open spaces, the glorious weather and beaches. The warmth and friendliness of the people, who are often too relaxed for their own good. The innovative and vibrant food & coffee culture, and access to authentic and high-quality cuisine from all over the world. And as terror strikes many places around the world, Australia sits safely in its little corner, watching from a distance.

You also realise that you never fully appreciated where you came from until you leave. Until you have to defend it and explain it to others. Only then do you realise why everything is the way it is back home, and why you do indeed love it so much. If moving abroad does one thing, it shows you your roots in a way nothing else can.

4. You never really “find yourself”

So many of us believe that embarking on a journey around the world will help us “find ourselves.” You’re lost and confused so you book that three month trip to Asia right after high school with the hopes of finding that missing piece. You return with new beliefs and perspectives on life and become addicted to the personal growth. So you set off again and again. Over 20 countries later and you’ve realised you still don’t know much at all.

One summer I fell in love with a bustling, crowded and exciting mega city in Asia and saw a future there. That is, until the future arrived and I realised my health is more important than the adventures the city could offer me. I once thought social media was a waste of time, but then I moved away and found myself happily writing a blog post. I thought I knew what I wanted in a relationship until I met someone on my journey who completely changed my mind.

Your foreign experiences are constantly reworking your belief system and challenging everything you think you know.

You don’t know if this career path you’ve chosen is what’s best for you or if what you value in a daily routine is actually want you want in the long-term. You don’t really know if you’re actually missing things back home or if you just like the idea of missing them.

You learn after so many years away from home that you should just stop trying to figure yourself out and to just keep moving.

5. Live in the moment

If life continues in the same direction it has in the past few years, I probably won’t be sitting in my current apartment a year from now. Life will continue to move and flow. The friends I enjoy dinner with tonight may end up being a 20-hour flight away and the neighbourhood that I now call home might become the source of my homesickness.

So you just gotta live in the moment and appreciate everything for the way it is right now.

I’m sitting here in my beautiful apartment, sipping on a glass of wine and listening to the birds sing around me. This moment is fleeting, and I’m so lucky to be in it.

Comments

  1. The way you write is so magical that i don’t want to stop reading it.. Like why can’t i just read your writings forever. Love you Sarah and the way you write. Nothing else is needed to make you perfect coz you already are and i hope the smile on your lips stays there permanently!

    • Thank you for the lovely comment Ananta! I’m so happy to hear you like the blog. Maybe you can read my writing forever now that I have a blog 😛 Wishing you a lovely weekend!

  2. I love your writings so much Sarah…..and the blog is AMAZING…I realy realy loved it and I know u worked hard for it…Thank youuuuuu

  3. Kiddo; I did not know you were making such progress in following your dream(s) Needless to say I am so pleased!
    On the home front? I am a bornagain truckerrr. Things are progressing with the (sale of) our home but that’s another story. Hope to reach out to you this weekend. Be safe. grandpa

    • I honestly didn’t realise just how much I’ve achieved and grown in the past year and a half until I reflected on it recently. Life moves so fast over here Grandpa! I hope you are feeling energised being back in the truck and that you are well and healthy. All the best, Sarah

  4. This is really nice Sarah. I always enjoy reading blogs but yours is really very inspiring. I hope you write more stuff like this, and i am wishing you the best! Thank you for sharing your insights and inspiring many people through your blogs. God bless!

    • Thank you for the encouragement Marian! It’s feedback like yours that motivates me to keep doing this! I hope you have an amazing week!!

  5. Dear Sarah, thank you for sharing. 🌼 First off I just wanted to tell you how happy I am that you finally have your own blog🌻. Im not very good at writing and i dont usually write to people (per say comment)
    But i feel like i have to share my thoughts with you. Sometime in life….we all need an escape and we need that inspiration to give ourselves a push. So It’s nice to know that someone out there is living in the moment, capturing the experience and making the best out it. So thank you for sharing that with us.
    It’s all very lovely and I’m sure who ever read your blog will feel inspired and empowering.
    I really enjoy your blog.
    Always look forward to more of you beautiful story.

    Take care. 💐
    -Tran.

    • Hi Tran! I just want to say thank you so much for the lovely commment! All the time you spent writing it is really appreciated. I really enjoy writing posts like these as it helps me reflect on my life. I learn so much about myself as I sit down and let the words flow. It’s even better if others find it inspiring or helpful too! It makes me think I should have started this earlier hehe. You will definitely see more from me in the future! Thank you again for dropping by! Much love, Sarah xxx

  6. Finally!! I finally found a beautiful woman, who doesn’t go around with all that “find yourself” stuff. I’m 16, and you have no idea how finding your account has helped me. You inspire me, to travel, to experience new things, to live happy and unstresed. I love your pictures and your contents.
    Please, do this world a favour and never stop being like this,
    Much love
    Marta

    • Aww Martha, that was so lovely! It means so much to me that I can inspire you to live the exact way you want to! Thank you for dropping by sweetie ❤️

  7. Well my friend if it wasnt written in front of me in black and white i wouldnt have believed it. Im so proud of you, i know that sounds patronising but bad luck i am.

    I love the positivity and self awareness you exude. This has been one hell of an experience for you and i know how hard it was to take those first few steps of independence but my god it has been worth it. (Warning about to become patronising again) You truly have blossomed, you left a girl and now before me is a strong, confident, powerful woman (who i see has a bit of vintage in her closet, im taking credit for that!)
    Whenever the homesickness stikes im only a phone call away.
    Love you forever and a day
    Your Aussie Mum xx

  8. Wow such amazing advice! (As always😊) I know I can always count on you when it comes to things I’m curious about. When I graduate I do plan on taking a couple years off to live a little and travel, this was such great advice! Thank you so much Sarah! Much love for you!!💜

    • That sounds like a fantastic Maria! It’s not going to be easy but it will be totally worth it! Much love for you <333

  9. Hey there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after browsing through some of the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back frequently!

  10. I’m planning to move to my guy’s place somewhere in Europe too.. and as you are I’m from an Asian country as well. This article motivates me knowing a lot of things I will have to go through to be with him permanently in the near future.
    Keep it up Sarah <3

  11. This is such an important post for me to read. I will move from Vietnam to Switzerland in the future. Its good that now i know what i should prepare for mentally. I’m thinking whether I should learn French or German. Its gonna be a really tough year head but thanks to you i found faith. Thank you again and please continue to write blog. I will always support you. Please have a nice day.

  12. Hi Sarah. Please to know you throughout one post on facebook. I am very keen on you about your beauty, your life style and your experiences. I feel your beauty is perfect. I skimmed almost your posts on your website but I hardly find the one about skin and lip care. So I truly hope that you will share to people in general and me in special about how you have such an healthy skin. Thanks for your reading and your care.

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