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What It’s Really Like To Live Overseas, And Is It Right For You?

If you have this dream of graduating uni, applying for a working holiday visa and hitting the UK for two years, you’re not alone. It seems to be quite a common trend among us millennials to pack our bags and jump on the expat bandwagon as soon as we have the funds to do so. Maybe it’s not the expat journey that you’re about to embark on but rather an exchange year to a partner university, one of the ‘requirements’ of your international studies degree. Whatever the reasoning, making the move to another country is a pretty ballsy thing to do. So before you take the leap of faith, here’s a few advices straight from an a girl who used to live overseas.

Do Your Research, Thorough Research That Is

Whatever city takes your fancy, before you even consider apartment and job hunting, be sure to have a bit of a knowledge about the country it’s located in, it’s culture and heritage. Rather than simply saying “hey, Mexico City sounds pretty sick, let’s book myself a flight next week..” think it through. Before you make the commitment to living in the city, maybe embark on a trip to the city first. Research into the type of work available for English speakers (if you don’t speak the required language), the type of visa you would need and how much it actually costs to live in the city. Gathering the right background information will ensure a little extra security before taking the next steps.

Have A Heap Of Money Saved

If you haven’t already lined up a job or place to live before you make your move, and you plan on sorting it out when you get there, for the love of all things good have sufficient funds behind you. Trust me, you will struggle big time if you go with a few hundred in the back pocket. Understand that living expenses are high, no matter where you go, it is challenging to make ends meet. Having a financial security blanket under your feet is super important and will relieve a little of that natural stress around the move.

Understand That You Will Feel Alone At Times

You’ve settled into your new home. You’re trying to socialise as much as possible and make the effort to befriend your work colleagues, fellow students or even your neighbours. No matter how many people you surround yourself with, understand you will feel lonely at times, especially in the first months of settling in. Unfamiliarity and being away from your usual circle of friends and family does take a toll. Be sure to clock in the FaceTime hours and if you are struggling to meet people don’t be scared to reach out to people online. A lot of cities have Facebook groups like ‘Aussie Expats Living in (Insert City Here)’. From experience, they are super positive groups that connect like minded and situated people, which is super comforting.

There Will Be Culture Shock And Things You Just Can’t Do

When you move overseas, particularly a non English speaking country, you will be faced with adversities bigger than just a language barrier. Simple things that you can easily tackle at home like opening a bank account, enrolling for university, getting a tax file number, immediately become that little bit more challenging. Bigger than that, cultural differences will be vast. Understand that your fellow humans in your new city aren’t going to conform to you, you need to conform to them.

Remain Open Minded and Optimistic

Moving overseas is a bloody challenge. Finding your feet, no matter what the scenario is an intense time. Heck, the first four months of my move to Berlin were a transition period, and it didn’t end there. But remember, if living in the city you have chosen was your dream, keep the dream alive. Give yourself time and focus on all the things that are really working out for you in your new home. Accept the challenges and remember, your optimism will be the trait between you staying or going home. And if you realise living overseas isn’t your thing, well at least you had a go at it.

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