Current City: London
Age: 26 (almost 27!)
Why did you decide to move abroad?: Quarter Life Crisis – didn’t really know what I was doing with my career or love life, basically just wanted to go off and have an adventure by myself and figure life out
How did you decide where to move?: I have always loved London and England speaks English so I was set
What was the process you had to go thru to move?: As an American coming to the UK, unless you have an ancestry passport (which is subject to more stringent rules than the EU ancestry passports) or are married to a Brit, you have to get a company to sponsor you on a work visa. I am extremely lucky that my field is specialized and I can work anywhere, as there are jobs for me in London/the UK and getting a visa was not too much of a challenge. However, it can be a tremendous barrier for some.
Whats your favorite thing about living abroad?: How can there only be one favorite thing about it? I’ll give you three 😉 1. This is YOURS. This adventure is entirely, 100% what you make it. The job you get, the housing you find, the food you eat, the friends you make. You have done it all yourself. You have made an entire life for yourself by making decisions, stepping out of your comfort zone, and being the independent, brave person you truly are. There is something completely incredible about knowing the life you are living is exactly what you want and you have done it all on your own. 2. Though you’re living out of your comfort zone, you tend to float towards people who are similar to you. Now that you’re living abroad, these people are going to be other expats. It’s also amazing to meet people who think and feel about the world as you do, and have also packed up their lives to move to a foreign country and experience something new. You will always have this bond and these people will become your family abroad. Meeting people who understand how I feel about moving away from home makes this adventure so much better and more rewarding. 3. The new world you’re living in is at your doorstep. If you’re in Europe, you can fly pretty much anywhere for a weekend away. New cultures and new places to go await with every free minute you have. Take advantage. It won’t be cheap, but it will be worth it.
And whats the hardest thing?: Another two part response: 1. Being far away from family and missing life events (good and bad). It’s doable to be home within 12 hours but not easy or cheap. You’re going to miss things and it’s going to suck. There’s not getting around it, you can’t have both. 2. At some point, you’re going to settle in and yes, it’s life in London or France or South Africa, but it’s still life. You have to run errands, pay bills, and the worst of all – go to work. Sometimes that makes you forget where you are because all of that is the same anywhere. But then every once in a while, after a bad day at work and the trains are delayed, you look up and you’re like ‘…I can’t believe I live here’ and it’s magical again for a minute. Until a tourist runs over your feet with their suitcase and you’re like ‘FOR F*CKS SAKE’ and you realize you are really, truly assimilated.
How did you find a job(s): I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the firm I now work for while travelling on vacation.
What do you wish you brought?: NOTHING (see next answer).
What do you wish you left at home?: EVERYTHING. They sell everything here. It’s not necessarily cheap or easy to find (but if you didn’t want a challenge, you wouldn’t be considering moving away!), but there is EVERYTHING. I brought loads of pajamas because pajamas are expensive in America, right? I mean $20+ for pajama pants is an outrage. I get to London and Primark (better than Target, I promise you – also has locations in the US) has the biggest pajama department I’ve ever seen. ALL KINDS OF PAJAMAS and for cheap! I was annoyed that I dragged pajamas across the ocean when they have loads of cute ones here. (Needless to say, I’m now set for life on pj’s.) And if they don’t have it here, my mom always quotes Rick Steves who says, “If millions of Europeans can live without it, you can too.”
What have you learned: You are the only person holding yourself in your comfort zone. On my second trip to Europe, I wanted to go to Italy and Switzerland, and I made my brother come with me because I couldn’t go to those places by myself! Over the last two years since then, I gradually gained more and more independence. I’ve now taken 6 or 7 solo vacations, including to non-English speaking countries, and they were some of the best holidays I’ve had. You don’t need to wait for people – just go live your life. You’re the person you have to spend the rest of it with.
Any advice for others looking to move abroad?: DO IT. Just do it. Now. Go. You’re not getting any younger and life isn’t getting any less complicated. It will be hard, potentially the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But if you believe you’re worth the challenge, you won’t regret one day, week, or month of it. And it doesn’t have to be forever. Even if you aren’t sure, plan to go for six months or a year. A year isn’t really that long. You can always come back home.
Any other comments: #yolo