6 questions to ask yourself before moving abroad

More moolah. A lover. A new outlook on life. Whatever the reason, moving abroad is a titillating thought for many of us. Other countries are mysterious, fascinating and f-ing terrifying all at the same time. It’s almost the new year! Here’s 6 things for you to keep in mind before hopping a border for good in 2016.

Do I like learning? When you move abroad, you start from scratch. There are a lot of things you have to deal with that aren’t so obvious until you move. You have to learn where everything is, where you can buy decent meat, where to get your teeth cleaned, where to buy sriracha for god’s sake. Many of the stores or brands which you prefer might not even exist in your new country. Then what? (How do you live without Victoria’s Secret, I beg?) You have to learn the culture. What’s appropriate and what’s just creepy. Like, in Poland, you shouldn’t smile at strangers (but I still do it and I don’t give a shit!)

Other than that, you’ll be learning the language. Of course you can live without it, but not at a high level. It’s worth the struggle. It opens so many doors and makes it possible not to feel a fool each time you leave the house.

Am I able to live outside my comfort zone? If you’re an introvert, it’s gonna be double hard for you. Welcome to my hell. But the real question is whether or not you deal with change well. Do you enjoy it? Do you like the idea of changing jobs or meeting all new friends? Can you handle feeling silly (over and over again) because you don’t understand something? Having to be the only non-native speaker of a language? Often being the center of attention? Taking part in traditions that aren’t your own? Not knowing what to do or say in many circumstances? Being the only different one? These are the realities of being a foreigner.

Am I willing to feel constant guilt? Even if you don’t have close relationships, the people in your life will always ask you when you’re moving home. I don’t know if that ever stops or the guilt goes away. Your family and friends want to see you and they don’t understand why you moved away. What can you do? Feel guilty.

Do I have someone to help me if I need it? This is very important in terms of support and it’s essential if you don’t speak the language where you live. Imagine that you need your sink to be fixed. Firstly, you have to find someone. In your own country, you’d just ask your parents or one of your friends. For sure they have a guy. And when the guy comes you can easily explain to him in your language. WTF is “my sink is clogged” in Polish? Yikes. Google is your best friend.

I know a few foreigners in Poland who don’t have significant others who speak Polish and they also don’t speak Polish. They just moved to Poland for the hell of it. They had a friend here or someone who said Poland was cool. They’re hardcore. Honestly sometimes I don’t understand how they manage. I’d never make it here without a Polish speaking person to help me. I haven’t graduated to that level of badass, but it’s important to have aspirations.

Will my relationships keep me from being happy abroad? If you’re the kind of person whose family is extremely close or you have friends who you can’t live without seeing often, moving abroad might not be for you. Shitty news: your relationships with your family members and friends will inevitably change. People who you were best friends may stop talking to you. You may only talk to the ones you manage to keep once a month or less. Each time you’ll only be catching up. Even your family members may stop talking to you, or worse, assume you don’t care about them or want space because you moved away.

I’ve yet to figure this one out. I lost two really close friends just because I moved. No other reason. Nothing else happened. No arguments, nothing. They just stopped talking to me or we drifted apart. That’s hard to get over.

Trust me when I say it, this is the hole inside you that will deepen over time. If it’s for 1-2 years and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, ok, but if it’s long-term and you’re very close with those people, you may want to think twice. Money isn’t everything. Adventure loses it’s luster.

Is it really worth it? Your life will be entirely different. If you have someone to spend it with or a fantastic career which satisfies you, it’s totally worth it. Plus, when you tell people where you live and they’re like “WHAT” you’ll be like “Oh, no big deal. I’m just kind of a badass.” That’s pretty satisfying.

Many things get better with time. It always takes me about 3 years to get used to a place. You, hopefully, adjust more easily than I do! I don’t want to discourage anyone from moving away, but I know what it’s like from the other side. I don’t think anyone’s advice would have stopped me and I don’t think mine should stop anyone either. You have to figure those things out for yourself, whether the result be good or bad.

Happy New Year everyone! Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku! See you next year! Do siego roku!

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  • Reply hollydolly 2 January 2016 at 00:31

    Oh, I didn’t even noticed there is no Victoria Secret in Poland. Is it really so important?
    And „my sink is clogged” would be „mój zlew jest zapchany”, but I’d rather say „zlew mi się zapchał” talking about a recent event, the literal one is making a general statement — like „słońce świeci, niebo jest niebieskie, zlew jest zapchany”

    • Reply Leah Southers 2 January 2016 at 09:23

      Well where do you buy well-priced, decent underwear in Poland? I think they’re all super expensive.

      Good to know about the sink thing 🙂 but surely my husband would take care of something like that anyway!

      • Reply Aleksandra 9 January 2016 at 22:52

        I highly recommend you Esotiq. Best lingerie store here and available almost everywhere 🙂 very nice design, good prices and great quality.

        • Reply Leah Southers 9 January 2016 at 22:53

          Hah ok thanks, Aleksandra! I’ll check it out 🙂

  • Reply hollydolly 2 January 2016 at 17:05

    This brafitting thing got quite popular I think, with your knowledge of Polish you’ll be able to get enough information to do some kombinowanie on that matter

  • Reply Maria 2 January 2016 at 18:33

    Hi! Those are really serious questions and I guess most of the people moving abroad do not realize that they need to ask these questions to themselves. I think that only after some months of living abroad you start considering the issues you described in your post.

    The part about friends is true. But you know what? As you are moving abroad you also probably start travelling more (than in your home country) and meeting more and more people that are just like you. And yes, you loose some of your ‘native’ friends, but you gain many new friendships with the people from around the world/country. You stop assessing people like in your home country (I hope you know what I mean). And those kinds of friendships may seem to be really weird for most of persons. But I think it’s amazing to ‘gather’ amazing experiences with many different people you’re not probably going to see ever again… but in case you could see them one more time (after a year of no talking to each other), everything would be the same :). I hope you understood what I was trying to express :).

    • Reply Leah Southers 2 January 2016 at 20:57

      Hey Maria – yeah I think people move and they just don’t think about it, which, you know, is probably a better idea because if you think about it too too much you’ll freak yourself out and never go. Then you move and you realize it’s not all rainbows and butterflies, which is ok, right? But for sure, like you said, those experiences with random people who you met once and never see again are some of the memories that you cherish. Like you always have some bond with people you travelled with. But yeah I totally know what you mean 🙂 Cheers!

  • Reply Ann 3 January 2016 at 21:55

    I was born and raised in Warsaw and I really don’t get why older people or some of the younger reacts badly when I smile at them on the street. When I was in Berlin, London and Barcelona it was normal! But here it’s like strange thing to do… But just like you, I do it anyway. And believe me, 10 yrs ago reaction to smile from stranger was even more hostile than it is now! I just hope that in the next 10 yrs smiling and being polite to everyone will be normal thing to do on Polish streets.

    • Reply Leah Southers 4 January 2016 at 06:29

      Ann – for sure 🙂 one smile at a time!

  • Reply leidergeil 8 January 2016 at 22:21

    It’s what came to my mind after reading about the badass thing:
    I hope it won’t offend you.

    (actually I’ve rather though more about the junkyard scene, but this one also posesses kinda lot of artistic values)

    • Reply Leah Southers 9 January 2016 at 23:00

      So I had to google image search this to figure out what it was and now I know it’s from Psy 2 but I have no idea what the context is. Could you explain it?

      • Reply leidergeil 10 January 2016 at 15:23

        It’s a character with a compatible name and debatable badassery.

        • Reply Leah Southers 11 January 2016 at 20:37

          Are you saying my badassery is debatable as well? 🙂

  • Reply leidergeil 11 January 2016 at 22:30

    I’ve never doubted that, it’s his I’ve had on mind. 😉

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