Living in another country is tough. Really, really tough. And even though your family and friends can try to tell you what to expect, nothing will prepare you for getting off the plane at Heathrow and feeling totally, utterly and uncomfortably alone.
Before you leave, you’ll only think about the good stuff; anonymity, a fresh start, the chance to escape heartbreak and/or a rubbish job. However, don’t forget the mindless bureaucracy, the weather difference, and the inability to understand different accents.
Here are ten things which living abroad will teach you; each lesson, however tricky, will be invaluable in the long-run.
Australia isn’t the best country in the world
You think that. I think that. But guess what; everyone thinks that the country where they grew up is the best. Take off that t-shirt with the Australian flag on it; you look ridiculous.
You can still get sunburned
Now is not the time to start avoiding the sunscreen; even if, by your standards, you’re freezing, the sun’s rays can still damage your skin. Don’t think just because there is some ozone left above Europe you don’t need to slip slop slap - especially in the summertime, when it can get uncomfortably warm.
Getting your new life set up will present its own set of challenges
From opening a new bank account to finding a job or getting a new mobile, you’ll discover that you spend a long time on hold, talking to people who aren’t sure what you want, discovering that you’re not sure what you want, and standing in queues waiting to sort stuff that would have taken a few minutes on the phone.
Tourists will become your enemy
You’re an expat now, not a tourist, so you’ll find any way possible to assert your new superiority over these buzzing, bumbling cretins. Woe betide anyone who stands on the wrong side of the escalator or blocks the street while holding a massive map; it’s not the locals they’ll have to worry about. It’s you.
The locals won’t care about your arrival
Oh, you were under the impression that your arrival would cause some kind of ruckus? Sorry, ladies and gents; on the whole, you’ll get a quick nod from your new neighbours, then they’ll leave you to it. The truth is, nobody will pay much attention to your arrival - and the bigger the city you move to, the more likely you’ll be just one of many ‘fresh off the boat’ Aussies who all have very similar tales to tell about how things work differently back home. Onwards!
It will cause moments of despair
If you’ve always been the type to cut and run, living abroad will show you a thing or two. You’ll find yourself in a strange country with minimal money, no job, no room, and no mates. It’ll be lonely, frustrating and upsetting at times. However, pride will prevent you from slinking home and begging for your old job back. You will find a place to live, get a job, and meet some fun people; it’ll just take time.
Australia is pretty good, you know
Maybe you’ve decided to live abroad because you’ve finally had enough of Australia; something within you snapped, and you thought ‘Enough’. However, there will come a point when you miss someone packing your bags for you in the supermarket, or the genuine smiles when you walk into a shop, or knowing what newsreaders are talking about when politics and sport are discussed. Australia’s not so bad after all, trust us
It might be harder than you think to make friends with the locals
Don’t get us wrong - people aren’t being aloof, but they know you’re only there for a while. We all know how hard it is to see a dear friend leave for the other side of the world. Don’t take it personally, but there’s a chance you’ll have to work harder to get into the locals’ inner circle. If all else fails, seek out other expats - they’ll understand what you’re going through.
Kiwis are just like us, sort of
Trust us, we’re not blaspheming; even though, as countries, we’re miles apart, with our own distinctive brands of of history, music, fashion, foods and culture. When you’re away from home, you’ll find that Kiwis are remarkably similar to us as we share so many cultural norms. Just be watchful that you don’t start to confuse the two accents; then you’re really in trouble.
Nobody cares about your travels
If and when you do decide to come home, the biggest shock may be that nobody cares about your trip. They won’t mean to be unkind; it just won’t hold their attention for long, and that’s fine. Save your reminiscing and tales of ‘Do you remember when...’ for the friends you met when you were living abroad, and try to remember that your gran won’t understand - or care - about your ‘lost’ summer in Sweden.
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