Moving overseas is an adventure, and one that is sure to rake in the Instagram likes. Unfortunately, the struggle of packing your life into a few cardboard boxes isn’t the only obstacle you’ll face, so before you change into your white linen pantsuit and begin a lifetime of ‘eat, pray, loving’… there are a few hidden truths to consider.
1. In real life, the likelihood of events turning out like the movies is slim to none.
No matter how romantic or exciting moving to a new city sounds, the logistical and financial realities of the process are going to do their best to murder (in cold blood) any lingering romanticism. Amidst visa applications, bank accounts, phone contracts, plane tickets, shipping costs and infinite emigration paperwork, you’ll develop an unbridled hatred for bureaucracy and red-tape. On the plus side, you’ll finally be able to empathize with the disgruntled Government Officials on the other side of the counter.
2. You’re about to become really acquainted with yourself.
A lack of friends, family, and familiarity will see your schedule cleared up for some hardcore ‘me’ time. The trick is to not resist. Mama told you there’d be days like this, so stop seeking company in the arms of weird Eurotrash Music Video channels and enjoy the quality one-on-one time that you just forked over your life savings to facilitate.
3. Thinking outside the (mind) box.
While some people are terrified of where being alone with their thoughts will take them, it can be a blessing in disguise. You may be left wondering what you’re doing with your hair and your life, but finding answers is not the aim of the game*. Let your mind lead you down some seriously weird paths — after all, the excitement of new surroundings or a new language is surely the inspirational injection your life was looking for.
*The answers are; ‘a bob’ and ‘nothing.’
4. Long distance everything is the worst.
Even with Viber, What’sApp, Skype, Facebook and every other App-store brainchild, all of your relationships will be tested, and sadly not all will survive. You’ll spend the majority of every Skype call losing wireless reception and staring at freeze frames of a blurred face. However annoying though, if someone on the other side of the world has bothered to stay awake until 3:00am, to pretend to be happy that you’re living the dream and that they have to get up in three hours, then you should hold onto that relationship tighter than Madonna is holding on to her youth.
5. It’s not going to solve all of your problems.
Unfortunately even if you throw thousands of dollars at the problem and have a stop over in Abu Dhabi, you can’t outrun your past. If you’re anxious, sad, or angry about life at home, you’ll still be anxious, sad and angry living in the neighboring continent. Moving abroad will present you with life-changing challenges and curveballs that you’ll deal with and grow from, but it’s not a one-way ticket to inner peace.
6. Money can’t buy you happiness.
It can buy accommodation and food — both of which you will need, but have none of — however. Living overseas is an expensive venture and one that may take you a while to recover from. If you’re lucky enough to know a guy who knows a guy who has an empty couch, send that uncomfortable email and call in every favor you’re owed. Transitioning from couch surfer to functioning citizen will be significantly helped by employment and housing. So before you leave, invest some time into spreading that ‘International Love’ Pitbull sang about, and tee up a few friendly safety nets.
Although there may be detours along the way, a lifetime of giving your regards to Broadway in New York, or falling in love with a guitar-swinging, faux-hawk-sporting lothario in London à la What A Girl Wants still lies ahead. In reality, the only hidden truth needed to keep you on track, is the knowledge that your experience will be purposeful and unforgettable — or at the very least, score you 11 likes.