It’s hard to believe that 5 years ago from now I had barely just arrived in Denmark (on October 3rd to be exact) and was settling into my life abroad. An experience like this definitely brings a whole new level of learning experiences than you get in your daily life. Here are some of the things I have learned from my experience abroad.
SAYING GOODBYE IS HARD
This is inevitable. The hardest part is saying goodbye to your friends and family. Some people may try to convince you to cancel your plans. People will promise to write, Skype/Facetime etc. It’s overall very emotional especially with your closest inner circle, which at the time for me was my mom, grandparents and (then) boyfriend.
YOU’LL GROW FROM THE HARDEST TIMES
Even though I cut my trip short, at the time I was saying goodbye I was fully committed to staying in Denmark for a full year, so thinking that I wouldn’t be seeing my loved ones for that time so saying goodbye was hard (as we spoke about above). Times like that, or your first few days trying to get used to the shock of a drastic life change are hugely important in growing you as a person. It also gives you confidence to know you can not only survive, but thrive as well.
I packed way too much for this part of my life. I had filled my life into two huge suit cases and I wouldn’t have needed at least one third of everything I brought with me. Pack as little as possible, you can buy the rest when you get there. For storage solutions for your suitcase, I would highly recommend vacuum seal bags! Pack all of your clothing into those and suck out the air. That leaves more room for the things you need and will protect your clothing from any spilling that may occur in transit.
HAVE MONEY FOR EMERGENCIES
This is so important, you always need a way out. You’re new to a different country and chances are you may have made all of your accommodations online. Or maybe you haven’t secured a job yet. Or maybe there ends up being a family emergency. You want to make sure you have some money to back you up in any unforeseen circumstance that may come your way. You don’t want to ever be stuck in a bad situation with no way out.
If this is already your personality, that’s going to work well in your favour. However if you’re more of an introvert, making friends can be a bit of a challenge. You really need to push yourself out of your shell and go meet people in your new area. It can help you learn the language and it will help ease your transition into your new life.
EMBRACE THE DIFFERENCES
Depending on where you’re from and where you go, you may experience some culture shock. The food may seem strange, you can’t understand simple things like road signs, the fashion styles may be entirely different than the norm at home. Embrace these differences, and learn about them! Try out the different foods (start slowly if that’s more comfortable for you), take language classes, pick up some new clothing pieces. To fully enjoy your time in this new place, you have to embrace the differences or you’ll probably find yourself pretty homesick.
DISCOVER YOUR TRUE FRIENDS
Remember when saying goodbye was so hard? All of those people who promised to still speak to you every day? Chances are, not everyone will. Some people will be too involved in their own lives around them to put time aside for a Facetime chat. Some people won’t want to hear about your experiences and will think that you’re just bragging. Some people won’t think you have a right to feel homesick because you’re so lucky to have this amazing new experience. Then you’ll have some people who are so happy for you, they want to live through your experiences. They will be there to Facetime you at weird hours, they’ll listen to you cry, missing home. They may even be into exchanging care packages. These are the friends (and family) that you will learn are true to you. Remember that even if/when you return home.
If you’ve ever moved abroad, what are some of your tips to share?