What living abroad taught me.
Living abroad has taught me many things from myself and women. There are many lessons learned while living abroad and of course from traveling to. But Living abroad presents you with new challenges that you don’t have to deal with when traveling. Here are a couple of things I have learned but most importantly I want to share them so you can have a sense of what awaits you.
Patience and most importantly resilience are key when living abroad
Moving abroad is a life-changing process that doesn’t end when you arrive at your new destination. Living abroad is a whole other process where your interpersonal skills will flourish, your language skills, job skills, and even skills you had no idea of start appearing to save you.
Sometimes feel that only the toughest and bravest make it! Darwin’s theory can be put into practice when living abroad.
The grass is not always greener on the other side.
We always tend to think that everyone everywhere else is doing better than what we have or where we are. In part, I think because of social media or because we just don’t do proper research before jumping to this conclusion. But what I’ve learned and what I’m sure you will learn abroad is that the grass is not all greener on the other side. It may be greener in some parts but not entirely.
So keep in mind that every place has its own set of obstacles and problems you will face too. For example, I thought Puerto Rico had the worst bureaucratic issues and that when moving to Spain all that was behind me. Well, think again.
Identity is my ally to make new connections overseas.
It is easy to get lost of you don’t know who you are. It can even make it difficult to begin making friends and connections abroad. And having this sense of identity or of who you give you a sense of direction. If you enjoy volleyball, salsa dancing, karaoke, etc., then go find your niche, it makes finding friends easier.
On a deeper level, finding your cultural niche it is essential for those who are struggling with homesickness. Let me paint a picture, when I moved the first time to Madrid I wanted to meet new people and didn’t want to stay in the Puerto Rican group. Just because I wanted to learn about new cultures and make different connections. Later I realized that although Spaniards can party I wanted to party like the Latina that I am. Most importantly, I wanted to connect on a deeper level and tell someone what I was missing from back home and have support from people who could understand me. Now I understand why so many people tend to stay within their cultural groups when abroad.
I also know that there is more to the equation of why this happens but for the sake of keeping this, a happy post lets leave it there.
Material possessions aren’t that important when living abroad.
I think another important lesson learned from living abroad is giving less value to positions and material things in general. If you plan to live a nomadic life or move to another place you just can’t hold on to material stuff. Imagine the load of luggage you will be moving from place to place. And keep in mind that when arriving in a new country you will probably move a bit and even stay in a hotel before finding a new place to live. You just have to give stuff up.
The upside is relationships and experiences start to mean more.
It’s ok to not feel ok when abroad.
In the life of positivity, it’s normal to feel like you are being ungrateful for the opportunity of exploring a new country and living your best life abroad. But the truth is homesickness sometimes hits you hard and it’s hard to not feel not ok. And like I mentioned earlier, the grass is not always greener on the other side. You might have moved to another country expecting wonderful things and realized it wasn’t all you dreamed of.
At first, I was kicking myself for not enjoying the wonderful life in Spain and then kicking myself for feeling that way. But you know what? I had just realized I wasn’t going to get my residency anytime soon and I wasn’t going to see my family for more than a year. Not what I had planned. So now I’ve learned that it’s best to feel what you are feeling, see why you are feeling like that and give yourself a break!
Women are tougher than society has made us believe.
It had to be said and I said it! Women are tough! I have met so many great women while traveling and living abroad that just took a chance and left their homes to roam the earth. I have met solo travelers, immigrants who have it hard, and other’s not so hard, women who are willing to leave their commodities and try out new places and lifestyles. And let me tell you, it is not easy being away from one’s culture especially for a Latina for example in Europe or North America. The cultures are very different and still, there they are giving it their best and killing it!
But while we are tough it is important to take care of ourselves and share with others. This I believe makes us stronger. For instance, I now know I am capable of so many things but sharing with other women or family members makes me even stronger. It’s just better to share with others your struggles of living abroad. There is no need to carry the load alone no matter how strong you are.
What can you learn from living abroad?
Of course, everyone experiences and learns different things while living abroad. But this goes to show that if you go abroad with curiosity and a hunger for becoming your better self-living abroad (and even traveling) you will see change. Even if it’s “just” learning how to tell where is east and where is west. You will learn many things about yourselves and people in general.
And if you have been living abroad take a moment for yourself and reflect on how you have changed or what you have learned and let me know!