The Unlikely Bookworm

6 Things Moving Abroad Has Taught Me

Moving Abroad

Me, blogging, in beautiful Byron Bay

Having just passed my eighteen month anniversary in Australia, I thought now would be an appropriate time to reflect on my journey thus far, and write about the things that moving abroad has taught me; the good the bad and the ugly. I’ve already written in depth about what life has been life for me as an expat, navigating my way around a new city, new friends; a new life.

And so, if you’re thinking of taking the plunge to leave life as you know it behind, here are some of the life lessons that living abroad has taught me.

Homesickness eases, but never quite disappears: I remember with absolute clarity the first few weeks of life down under. I experienced a kaleidoscope of emotions – awe at this new life and this new city of mine, fear of the unknown; excitement at the adventures that lay ahead. And while many of my emotions plateaued in the weeks to come as I settled into life in Australia, my homesickness didn’t. The anguish of living on the other side of the world to my beloved friends and family often felt like a weight that would never lift; a sudden memory, a night in alone, a bad day at yoga teacher training and the distance would feel insurmountable. Until, suddenly it didn’t. But while the homesickness eventually stopped occupying my every waking thought, eighteen months down the line it’s still there; there’s still a sadness – albeit a smaller one. I don’t suppose it ever gets easier; the goodbyes any less heartbreaking; but this much is true: how blessed are we to have people in our lives that makes the distance so hard?

Some friendships fade; others will blossom: When it comes to moving abroad, there are friendships that will stand the test of distance; and, ruefully, others that won’t. And while it’s always sad when friendships fade; those that blossom will be an unending source of joy. There will be friends with whom you maintain a steady stream of contact; and those you might not speak to for a year, only to pick up exactly where you last left off. Life can – and will – get in the way, but you’ll often find that your friendships are stronger for it.

Moving Abroad

Memories are more important than money: It often comes with the territory that moving abroad can be at the cost of your career. Often by choice – some choose to escape the rat race for want of a simpler life – others not so; certainly my main struggle in Australia has been finding a career to emulate the job I left behind in London. Despite, however, the stresses and the inevitable financial strains that comes with career uncertainty, one thing’s for sure: so long as you have enough to put a roof over your head and food in your mouth, you learn that making memories will always, always be more important than money.

Risks don’t always pay off: Moving abroad is undoubtedly a risk; more so for some than others. And while many may thrive; and land on their feet with a great career and an even better social life; others don’t, and will find life as an expat a struggle. And you know what? Both are fine. For me, as much as I love my life down under; my struggles here have unrivalled anything I knew back in London. And there’s no shame in failure. As the saying goes, take risks: if you win you’ll be happy, if you lose you’ll be wise.

You’ll learn to live outside of your comfort zone: Living outside of your comfort zone takes on a new lease of life when you move abroad. However westernised Australia may be; however culturally similar to the UK it may seem from the outside, the second you set foot on foreign soil to start a new life, you learn the importance of living outside of your comfort zone. From making friends in strange places (I met two of my favourite people in Australia online – Hermione and Lou I’m looking at you!), to embracing new weekend pursuits – from surfing to SUPing and beyond – to simply putting yourself out there in the hope that something will come of it; that you’ll create a lifelong friendship or develop that special bond. You’ll never know quite how strong, how resilient and brave you are until you push the boundaries of life as you know it.

Moving Abroad

Life will never be the same again: I always wonder at what point life changes irrevocably after moving abroad? After one month? After six? After twelve? But change it will. From building friendships that will last a lifetime, to meeting people that inspire you more than you knew possible; to witnessing the sun rise on beaches, and set on mountain tops.  You will change, you will grow, you will grieve. You will flourish and you will fail, you will learn about yourself, about others and about life. And one day you may pack up your bags, board that flight and return home; life may one day return to normal. And yet, you’ll be left with the greatest gift of all: a lifetime of memories of how it was, how it could have been and how wonderful life truly is.

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41 Comments

  1. Posted 18th March 2017 at 5:40 am | Permalink

    This is such a relatable post! I’m planning to move abroad also and somehow this helps with the doubts and makes me a bit ready.

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      Good luck with your move! Where are you planning on moving to? xx

  2. Posted 18th March 2017 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    I’d add, after 13 brilliant years in this amazing country, that you learn to discard unhelpful attitudes and assumptions and embrace what is new and out of your comfort zone; that home is where YOU are, rather than a place; and that you can acquire a passionate love for a country which is unmatched by any mere accident of birth location. I chose this place, I love it, and it seems to love me back!

    • Lexy Smith
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Thank you for saying this, we are currently planning a move to NZ, a country that I have fallen in love with and feels like home to me, but whenever I mention it to friends or family it is met with with varying dissaproval which does get me down. Need the strength to do what I know is right for me and my family.

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Amen to that!

  3. Lexy Smith
    Posted 18th March 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Thank you for writing this, gives me faith in our future plans however they may turn out!

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      I definitely think focusing on the fact that nothing is irreversible makes these big decisions easier! And I think you’ll have a fabulous time in NZ because you’ll be nearer me xx

  4. Posted 18th March 2017 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I think I agree with all your points! I’ve been an expat (France –> Australia) for 5-6 years now, and I share most of the feelings you’ve described in your post!

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for stopping by Eloise – looking forward to having a read of your blog today! xx

  5. Posted 18th March 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    I so agree about memories are more important than money! I think we sometimes need to jus take a break and allow ourselves to enjoy the time we get abroad, visiting, doing…I know how many times I just needed a reminder to stop working and simply enjoy life a little.

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      Definitely Cory. It’s all too easy to get caught up in a whirlwind without stopping to smell the flowers as they say! xx

  6. Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Loved reading this, and couldn’t agree more! The homesickness definitely never goes away, but it does fade and gets easier to deal with 🙂 Thanks for sharing this!

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Yes it definitely does! Thanks for stopping by xx

  7. Posted 18th March 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    “As the saying goes, take risks: if you win you’ll be happy, if you lose you’ll be wise.” Love this perspective. I’m going on 16 months anniv in Spain, and I have absolutely no regrets. Isn’t it great how we can face challenges and overcome them? Aren’t we blessed to even have to opportunity to pick up and leave and not be labeled an IMMIGRANT (as many are)? We are privileged. I recognize it and so I really try to live with gratitude every day for that simple fact. We are privileged and blessed. Cheers!

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment Ariana, we are so unbelievably blessed and I remind myself of that every day, particularly when I’m going through the stresses and strains of trying to sort out my visa situation. Living with gratitude is one of the best things we can do xx

  8. Kelly
    Posted 18th March 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for a lovely post that I totally relate to. Living abroad is definitely not as easy and glamourous as it seems. I mean, after all, life is still life no matter where you live. But it changes you and helps you grow and become a more independent and resilient person. Thanks for a great post!

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree with you more Kelly! Thanks for stopping by xx

  9. Posted 18th March 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    This is so relateable! I moved abroad to Belgium to live with my boyfriend and I was really sad by how many of my friendships back in Canada just kind of fizzled out.
    But then I made so many awesome expat friends here and it just kind of shifted things.
    Moving abroad is definitely harder than people think – and these are all great lessons!!

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jaimee, yes it can be really sad for sure, but my life is definitely so much richer for all the wonderful friends I’ve made over here and I hope yours is too. And moving abroad is absolutely harder than people think; and I think it’s so important not to sugar coat it. I’ve had the best times over here but also the worst, and I think being honest and upfront about the hard parts is so much more relatable than simply showing how amazing expat life can be! xx

  10. Posted 18th March 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Spot on girl. I’ve been traveling constantly for the past year and it’s been an awesome experience. Also, props to your web design! It looks great 😀

    Mary @SVtipsygypsy
    http://www.maryandtharon.com

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Mary; travelling really is one of the best experiences isn’t it? And re the web design I wish I could take the credit but I have an amazing designer who’s done most of the work! xx

  11. Posted 18th March 2017 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    I can truly relate to this Lucy. I’ve lived abroad and I love and agree with what you’re saying about friendships. Also really appreciate your honesty about the risks. As much as I am an advocate for living abroad it’s important for people to know that. Love what you’re doing <3

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

      Thanks so much. I think it’s so easy for people to see the sugar-coated side of moving abroad so I always try to show the other side too as it sure as hell hasn’t been an easy ride! xx

  12. Monica
    Posted 18th March 2017 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Lucy there are big and honest lessons shared by you. I can’t agree less that memories are better than making money and that is the motto I live by too when noise around me makes me think what am I doing? And the last lesson Life will never be the same again. This is the biggest truth of travel. Good bad ugly all experiences will be gained and life will be different. Great thoughts.

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your lovely words Monica! xx

  13. Posted 18th March 2017 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    Really enjoyed reading this and I can completely vouch for the whole ‘friends ‘ situation. I have been away on working holiday visas quite a fe Waimea, and found I made better friends while abroad then in the U.K. How come you decided to move to oz? ( curious as I am looking to move out there but need to check out this east coast this year!) to see which side we prefer. Also, are you perm out there now? Xo

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th March 2017 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      I actually moved here after falling in love with someone I met while on holiday over here; only spent 8 days with him but decided to risk it regardless! It didn’t work out but it was the best mistake I’ve ever made as despite the ups and the downs I absolutely love Australia. Where on the East Coast are you thinking of checking out? A long way from being here permanently but am going to be applying for a defacto visa with my boyfriend so I definitely see myself here for a good few years at least xx

  14. Posted 18th March 2017 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Some of these other digital nomads make it look so easy but really…it’s sausage making.

    • Lucy
      Posted 19th March 2017 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      Definitely Carol, that’s why I think it’s so important to offer an alternative perspective of what life is really like as an expat! xx

  15. Kris Morton
    Posted 18th March 2017 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    This is great. My brother is living abroad right now and he’s talked about a lot of these things.

    • Lucy
      Posted 19th March 2017 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for stopping by Kris, hope your bro is enjoying his time abroad! xx

  16. Steph
    Posted 18th March 2017 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    First of all, congrats on your 18th month anniversary! That is quite a feat and you must really love it over there or you wouldn’t have stayed that long. I can definitely relate to what you called the “kaleidoscope of emotions” and how some friendships fade while others blossom. Coming and going over the years has proven most of my friendships back home faded while the core close ones have blossomed despite distance – though it can be tough, I think travel is always worth it. Great introspective article 🙂

  17. Amanda Tran
    Posted 19th March 2017 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    Great insight on the realities of expat life. I’ve been travelling for the last 12 months and can definitely resonate with everything here. Also love that you choose to see everything with a positive outlook – I think this makes a huge difference. Let me know if you’re ever in Perth!

  18. Posted 19th March 2017 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    I moved abroad five years ago and really agree with the points you mention, particularly the one about getting out of your comfort zone. You really can learn and grow by trying new things while living abroad. Great post.

    • Lucy
      Posted 19th March 2017 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Delilah! I’ve just had a look at your blog and it’s gorgeous xx

  19. Posted 24th April 2017 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    Moving abroad is a really big deal, and it is normal to feel anxious and nervous. It is easy to focus on what can go wrong and think about this more than everything else. ith the points here and experienced them myself after moving out to Australia. Being an expat myself i began my own relocation business. I wanted to address a need for a service which genuinely recognised that each relocation is different and that all relocatees have differing expectations, therefore I created an App called Applocation which gives helpful advice and is easy to access through your phone.

    • Lucy
      Posted 25th April 2017 at 3:39 am | Permalink

      What a fantastic idea Kathy – I’ll have to check it out! xx

  20. Posted 9th May 2017 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    Hey Lucy, nice post and I pretty much agree with everything you say!
    I wrote about how travelling changed my life too if you’re curious – https://lulaaventura.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/voluntravelling-its-a-wonderful-thing/

    • Lucy
      Posted 9th May 2017 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

      Hey Lula, thanks for stopping by! I’ll check out your post today xx

  21. Posted 17th May 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Traveling and moving abroad teaches some awesome things and experiences. This post was an awesome read, Lucy!

    • Lucy
      Posted 18th May 2017 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      It certainly does, doesn’t it Agness? Thanks for your lovely comment xx

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  • lucy Welcome! I’m Lucy, a long-standing bookworm with a passion for literature and all things bookish. As a former Londoner and current Sydney-sider, this blog will offer you a window into the life of an expat, along with weekly book reviews, travel features and blogging tips, all written lovingly from my bedroom in Bondi. Read More

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