Everyone always sees and hears the good parts about living abroad and we also only share beautiful pictures of amazing land scapes, everyone smiling, and having the best time. But in reality, what is living abroad really like?
For lots of people it is an adventure, for others a path to reconnect and find your true self. For me, it is a combination of everything and a lot more… But one thing I can assure you, moving overseas is the best thing I have ever done!
I could endlessly write the good things about it, but instead I decided to write about the hardest things I had to deal during this first year of living abroad, and that I usually don’t tell most people:
- Language barrier:
I am sure most expats will agree with me on this one. The language barrier can be one of the hardest things in the beginning of this new journey.
You move to a new country without mastering or even knowing their language at all, thinking that just the english will be enough… Well, I’m sorry to tell you it is not enough. I don’t know how everywhere else is, but in the region where I chose to live in italy it is really hard to find people that speak good english! So basically you’ll have to do a lot of hand gestures and you cannot be afraid of being laughed at, because it will happen.
2. Change in your diet:
In the first couple of months when I moved to Italy, I thought I would never complain about it because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t like italian cuisine, right?!
But, after a while I started to get sick of it, I didn’t want to see pasta in front of me anymore and was really starting to miss and crave the food I was used to eating in Brazil and I couldn’t find it here!
When I talked to my friends about it, they said the diferences in the eating habits were hard for them too, especially for two friends of mine from England, where they are used to having dinner around 5 or 6 p.m., whilst here in Italy the dinner isn’t served before 8:30!
So prepare yourself for that, reading this you might think it is shallow complaining, but I can assure you that sooner or later you’ll understand how we feel.
3. Making new friends:
It might not sound like it, but it’s harder than you think!
It comes altogether with the language barrier, because if you don’t know the language it becomes hard to make new local friends. I myself in one year living in Italy, only made 3 or 4 italian friends! All my other friends are also expats from all over the world…
Also, it doesn’t matter how open-minded and outgoing you are, you’ll realize most of the things that sound interesting/funny in your mind might not sound good when you try to say them in another language, and people won’t get your sense of humour.
4. You’ll discover feelings you didn’t even know you had:
Before moving abroad, I was going through a phase where I didn’t really have many feelings inside of me. But it all changed…
In the first 5 months, I’d say I was so anxious and curious about the new country that I kind of forgot about the things back at home. But once I settled in, all of those feelings I had forgotten, started to emerge back again and completely trashed me.
There’ll be days you’ll literally cry yourself to sleep, others where you won’t even want to go out of the house, but right on the next day you’re super happy again, and vice versa.
Homesickness is one of the worst feelings I have ever felt, and it hurts. A lot!
5. Living with a Host family:
It is already hard and stressful sometimes living with your own family, imagine with a family that has a total different culture, language, and lifestyle to you…
I find it super overwhelming and there are days where I wish I could just run to the top of a hill and scream as loud as possible, exactly like what happens in some movies!
As nice and sweet as the family is with you, and as much as they will do for you, you will never feel truly comfortable and at home.
The hardest day for me with my first hostfamily was when I was really, really sick. My whole body was sore, I could barely speak or breathe, and they just didn’t care (I literally just wanted my mom’s hug, my dog spooning me, and my grandma’s special soup)… We were at the lunch table, my hostmom was talking to me, and I remember I had to turn my back on her because I just couldn’t hold back the tears anymore.
6. Holidays away from your family:
Holidays away from your family are really damn hard. For me, especially christmas and my birthday.
I mean, spending the holidays away + living with a host family, it is hard guys… They will have all of their relatives around, speaking super quickly in their language, and you’ll just stand there faking a smile when deep inside, your biggest wish is to be tucked under the bed sheets thinking about what your family and friends are doing back at home, and waiting endlessly to Facetime them.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
Baci baci .