I am a traveler by heart and I love to explore every part of the world. My goal is to see as many countries as possible, but at the same time put in the amount of time needed to really experience the country and its culture.
Even though, I adore seeing new places I have always fantasized about living abroad for a longer period of time. Therefore, I decided back in 2018 to move to Hawai’i. It’s been an amazing journey so far. Moving abroad has taught me more about life, love, and fear than any school or self-help book could ever have taught me.
Moving to another country is without a doubt terrifying, but at the same time also one of the most powerful feelings in the world. The feeling of creating a new existence far away from everything you know is definitely a huge step outside anyone’s comfort zone. I am sure most people who have tried to move abroad will all agree that it has helped them being more open-minded, broadened their horizons and made them realize what really matters in life, but what they won’t tell you is that moving abroad is also one of the loneliest, most alienating and guilt-ridden experiences they have ever had. Here are 5 reasons why.
5 struggles you experience when moving abroad no one tells you about
1. Leaving People Behind
There is really no way to sugarcoat it. The decision to move abroad no matter how you put it, is a selfish move from your side. Sure, it is great that you are living your dream and that you are choosing the life you have always dreamt about, but let’s face it. The only one you are really making happy is yourself.
Family and friends will do anything to hide their true feelings. They want you to be happy and they don’t want to burden you with their real thoughts. Instead, they will all tell you the same thing: “If you’re happy, we’re happy!”. But are they really though?
I was convinced that my decision to move abroad was just as thrilling to my family and friends, as it was to me. I was so busy thinking about myself, that I was completely and utterly blind towards their pain. When the day came for the goodbye, I saw a sadness in my parents’ eyes that I had never seen before. Sitting in the bus towards the airport, I turned around and looked outside the window one last time before driving away. My parents looked lost, fragile and almost 10 years older. My decision to move abroad was their misery.
2. The Feeling of Guilt
Missing out on important moments is impossible to avoid when moving abroad. You will miss family gatherings, birthdays and holidays. Friends will get new jobs, get married and babies will be born. Great moments in your family and friends lives will bypass. You want to be there, but going home isn’t always an option. You will therefore miss a whole lot and the only way you can really feel a part of it is through limited and selected moments on social media. Your support will suddenly be through likes and small comments.
When you leave home, you will have all good intentions, keeping contact with your friends and family through text and phone calls, but in reality it isn’t as easy as you think when everyday routine suddenly hits and there is a 12 hour time difference.
It is now important to start focusing on quality instead of quantity. You need to start focusing on the quality of contact you have with your loved ones at home. When you are finally home visiting it is important to make sure to make the best out of your visit, show interest in their lives and make sure to make new memories together.
3. Feeling Lonely
It is not unusual to feel lonely from time to time. This is going to happen wherever you decide to move abroad or never leave. Life is a continuous series of treacherous peaks and valleys and sometimes it can be really hard to find a firm footing. Everybody will feel lonely sometimes throughout life.
Loneliness can occur out of nowhere and there can be many different reasons to why your are feeling it. When you live abroad, it is hard not to occasionally experience homesickness . After a while you will inevitably start longing for home comforts. You will miss your family, your friends, the taste of your mom’s cooking, the familiarity of your old neighborhood, but you will also start to miss the traditions and customs you grew up with and know so well.
I quickly realized that loneliness and homesickness make really good friends with each other. It is hard not to experience one without experiencing the other. They will both pay you a visit from time to time and all you can do is to keep yourself occupied with friends, work or other activities. A really good idea when living abroad is to connect with at least one fellow countryman, if possible. It makes it easier to have someone who understand you culturally as well as understanding the silly small things you might be missing from home.
4. Not Fitting In
On some level, moving abroad is probably one of the best things that have happened to me in regards to fitting in. I have always been this weird traveler who could never really fit into the ‘normal’ society. For the first time in my life I wasn’t expected to be anyone I wasn’t. It was a feeling of freedom and it allowed me to reinvent how I wanted to be seen.
With that being said, being an outsider is also incredibly difficult and does take a toll on you. Being a minority in another country will quickly give you a feeling of not quite belonging. When living in another country, it is hard not to face cultural differences. Cultural differences can be everything from body language, a different way of thinking, a different way of communicating to different manners and norms. If you don’t agree you will quickly become an outsider.
To overcome this feeling of not fitting in, it is important to be open-minded and curious about the new culture you are living in. Even though, they might do it differently doesn’t mean it’s better or worse than what you are used to. It’s just different. Cultural differences can be hard, but can also be fun to explore.
5. Fear of Being Forgotten
When you move abroad you can’t help being afraid of being forgotten. You decided to leave everything you know behind to follow your dream. The dream to live somewhere else. Everyone who decided to do so can relate to the sentiment that just because you decided to follow your dream and move abroad doesn’t mean that you don’t want to still keep the important people close.
It is a scary thought to be forgotten. No one really wants to feel that they are no longer important. Unfortunately, you can’t really control the way people feel or react to the fact that you are leaving. Sometimes leaving home teaches you which connections were actually deep and which ones were only deep in your mind. Moving abroad will expedite the process of showing the actual quality of your friends. It will show you what friendships are able to withstand the distance and it will furthermore strengthen these relationships. The people who really love you will not forget.