You’ve bought your ticket, sorted your visa, quit your job, said farewell your friends and family and attempted to fit your entire life in 30kgs of luggage. Next thing you know, you find yourself on a plane sitting next to strangers, wondering if it’s too late to bolt out the door back onto safe and familiar ground. Oh dear.
Though I’m still struggling to wrap my head around it, it was my one-year London anniversary a couple of weeks ago. One year – how did that happen!?!
So, naturally, I feel like I’m a total pro at this whole moving-abroad-solo thing now. Yeah…right.
Though I’m yet to have an Eat-Pray-Love-esque epiphany, I do think there is something resembling relief that comes with this time having passed. Almost that I’ve made it through a whole annual cycle of emotions and can now approach the second year abroad more settled, experienced and with a much more level head. Only time will tell.
In celebration of everything I’ve learnt over the past year, I’d like to pay it forward. I don’t have answers or the magic solution for conquering your fears when it comes to moving abroad solo, but what I do have to offer is my experience about the rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts you’ll undoubtedly feel when you take the plunge.
So, from one expat to another, here are four thoughts (in no particular order) that you will probably have at one point or another when you move abroad solo.
I’m so excited
I mean, what’s not to be excited about!? Finding yourself in a new place with new things to discover each and every day is hugely exciting – and this shouldn’t be forgotten. Remembering the reasons why you moved and why you’ve embarked on this adventure when things get a bit rocky is really crucial, even though it’s easier said than done.
Whether you move interstate or to the complete opposite side of the world, having to start building a life from scratch is an incredibly daunting concept when you’re going it alone. When you don’t have someone with you to immediately problem-solve when things go a bit pear-shaped, you have nothing but your own intuition to rely on.
I’m lonely and have no friends
Cue the melodrama. But in all seriousness, anyone who has relocated before will tell you that making friends as an adult is tricky stuff – and nothing can make you feel more out of your comfort zone than leaving a strong support network of friends and family back home.
I think it’s really important to acknowledge that feeling lonely at times is completely normal and to be expected (multiply the likelihood of this by at least ten if you’ve moved to a country where you don’t speak the language!).
That said, it’s as equally important to realise that you’re not really ever alone – friends, family and other like-minded souls these days are only ever a FaceTime or social media shout out away. And trust me – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the frequency of visitors you’ll have.
I’m a planner by both nature and by profession so spontaneity isn’t something which ever came naturally to me. So trust me when I say this: you will find yourself saying ‘yes’ more and more and this is such a good thing.
Whilst leaving behind existing support networks is scary, the silver lining of this is that you don’t have existing obligations, routines (or friends, in some cases) – so, when someone asks if you’re free for lunch you say yes. Drinks? yes please. Spontaneous trip to Paris? Don’t mind if I do. It’s a really freeing feeling and one which we should all really take into our everyday lives wherever possible – expat or otherwise.