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My life has been quite a rollercoaster of emotions, and in great part due to the last few years, where I’ve been fortunate enough to have experienced the chance to hop around countries. And much can be said about that.
I've come to realise that it is never an easy task to move, well, even if you move in the same city its a difficult endeavour. But packing your bags and moving to another country. It can be daunting
And I'm not talking about all the bureaucratic work nor the pain of packing and unpacking your whole life in a couple of cardboard boxes or suitcases, because that is the easy part. The one anyone can see.
I'm talking about the toll it takes, the hidden problems and blessings, all the things you think you will never miss.
First and foremost (and as predictable as it sounds) it's a wonderfully unique chance to start fresh. New friends to make, new scenery to find, new favourite spots to find. On the other hand, you are "sacrificing" all of this. You no longer can distinguish north from south, you don't know where to shop, which cafe makes a killer latte or which cinema is the most comfortable. Although you can probably find most of this information if you read local reviews (also remember that your favourite review app might not be available in your new area. I used to be a big Yelp fan but ended up switching to Zomato).
But there are a lot of things that you might have not considered, moving is a big adventure, and if you are not prepared you can end up making avoidable mistakes. Murphy's Law is a thing after all, and in a process as delicate as this one. You don't really want to leave anything to chance.
One thing you definitely don't want to leave to chance is where you are going to sleep; your house (or room).
I know that this sounds like a no-brainer, but when I lived in Arnhem (in the Netherlands) I had an acquaintance that thought that finding a room to rent in a student town was going to be an easy task, luckily for him he had a car...in which he ended up sleeping in for about a month.
Don't neglect culture shock! I know we live in a wonderfully connected world, where everyone knows a lot of everything. For instance, I've never set foot in the United States but I know that in restaurants their portions are larger than the ones I'm used in good old Europe.
But there are a lot of little things that you won't learn online, and it's unlikely to hear when talking with others. For instance, in the Netherlands, you are expected to place your divider in the grocery shop (that plastic bar that separates your items from the other customer's items), and in my second trip to a local supermarket, I was told off by a lady. So be humble and open to your new country or city's way of living.
Do not neglect your friends back home, your new life might be a wonderful story ready to unfold, with sunshine and flowers fun and success. But you are now away from most people you know, and making new friends (especially as an adult) is a hard task. Acquaintances to drink coffee and share after work drinks are plentiful, but friends, not so much.
And at least in my experience, since you are the one that is away, you should do most of the legwork to get in touch, be the one to call, be the one to initiate conversations. Because their lives remain the same, their routines are unchanged, you are the one stranded in a magical new land.
On the same topic, don't be afraid of trying new things. Take advantage of Facebook events, and groups. And remember you don't need to marry the first person you see, just because your first new acquaintance proved to be an idiot, doesn't mean that the whole country is filled with idiots.
Lastly, don't be afraid to make mistakes nor to ask for help. When we are alone is when we wear our emotion on our skin, when our pride is more vulnerable, after all, you can't really run for cover, nor want to go back with your tail between your legs, especially when everyone is cheering for your success. But you will make mistakes, you will mess up here or there. Embrace it! After all, you made a huge change in your life. Allow yourself to grow. And give yourself time. Settling on a new place is a journey itself.