When I just turned seventeen years old, I moved to London. Why? Simply because I wanted to see what it was like. My plan was to live there for one year, and then explore the rest of the world. I ended up staying for 7 years.. I also lived in Los Angeles on and off for about 2 years. It was a great experience. It taught me so many life lessons. I came to London young and pretty naive when I look back at it but living abroad has made me into the women that I am today.
So, do you have any plans to live abroad? And is it for you? If so, these few lessons and tips may prepare you for one of the best decisions of your life.
1. Stand on your own 2 feet
It’s about letting go of the save harbor and sailing away to a new experience. Yes, it might seem scary but taking that first step and just GO feels great.
You’ll be surprised how quickly you will become that independent person.
2. Learn a new language and culture
Ok, I probably picked one of the easiest countries to live in because in The Netherlands we all speak a fair bit of English.
But I must say, every city speaks it’s own language and with it, it’s own culture. I learned to speak “the London way” and even understood it when people told me they were “Lee Marvin”. (which means Starvin’ in cockney English.) If you learn about different cultures and habits you will also become more open minded, which I think is a good thing. If you don’t know the language at all, take a course. It will make everything 10 times easier.
3. Meet new people (from all over the world)
If you’re going to move to a big city, you’re probably going to meet new friends with different nationalities. I’m still in contact with people from Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Mexico, England, Australia and the States. Some of these contacts have visited me back home and the other way around. This way you broaden your network.
4. You will get to know yourself (really really well)
There’s no better way of getting to know yourself whilst traveling or living abroad. Learn from your mistakes and get back up. Always listen to your intuition if you’re unsure.
5. Make a plan before you go
So, what will you do when you get there? Don’t go there with empty pockets. Save enough money to last you a few months or even better, find a job or course before you go. Depending on which country you may fly to, you may need to arrange a visa and working permits. When I moved over to London, I worked as an Au-Pair. This meant that I needed to look after the kids, clean the house and cook dinner. Is a good starting job when you are young and you want to integrate quickly. For this you need some experience and it’s always a good idea to get some sort of a diploma.
For more information on how to start to work as an Au-Pair, check this website.
Make a plan before you decide to leave your mark
Let it happen and enjoy it
6. Fall in love
Whether it’s with a person or a city, you’re probably going to fall in love. Let it happen and enjoy it. It happened to me twice (I dated an English man for 5 years and a guy in LA for about 2,5 years) and although it didn’t work out, it helped me grow and taught me the life lessons we all need to know. Falling in love with a country, city or small town is a beautiful thing. Because you can always return and you will never forget the experience!
7. You can make a new start
You may have fucked up a few times in your life. Or you may have done really good. It doesn’t matter because when you move to another country, you can start all over again! This is great. New friends, new habits, new food, new adventures.
8. You will appreciate your home country
Homesickness. If you are a frequent traveler, you may have experienced this feeling before. Yes, I have called my mum up a few times, crying my eyes out because I didn’t like my job, didn’t have a lot of friends in the beginning or felt lonely. But I never gave up. At the end, you know you can always return. Nowadays we have so many channels that help us to get in touch with the home front that it is almost impossible to miss home! Living abroad makes you appreciate where you came from. Maybe you shouldn’t complain about the rain so much (sunshine everyday of the year can also get a bit boring believe it or not!) or you may appreciate your mothers home cooked dinners a lot more.
So whether you want to move to England, Miami or Australia. Prepare yourself for the best ride of your life and always stay true to yourself.
You’ll be fine!